Magpies' depth revealed in Shield

BAD timing.

Today’s Charity Shield clash between Lower Clarence and the Grafton Rhinos could not have come at a worse time, according to Magpies co-coach Ricky Binge.

Up to eight senior players will be taking the field for the Warriors in the Lower Clarence Cricket Association (LCCA) grand final.

“We have about eight players involved in cricket who would have been named in our squad to take on the Rhinos,” Binge told the Examiner yesterday.

“It’s just bad timing, but we understand the player’s decision and wish them all the best.

“In fact, I’m supposed to be playing cricket as well.”

Binge said the late withdrawal of former Rhinos captain Xavier Sullivan has also left his side down on troops.

“Xavier isn’t happy with our decision to rest him,” Binge said.

“He has a hamstring problem and we don’t want him to do further damage.

“It’s more of a precautionary measure. We need him right for the start of the season.”

The absence of Sullivan and star forward Ryan Binge – who will be one of eight players involved in the LCCA grand final – is sure to test the Magpies’ depth.

“We’ll have a new-look front row with Jordan Walker and Dwayne Randall,” Binge said.

“They’re both handy footballers and will get the job done.

“We will also be making a change in the halves with Jesse Breckenridge starting at five-eighth and Todd Cameron moving into halfback.

“At this stage, we’ll rotate Jesse and Todd with Jason James.”

For the Rhinos’ new coach, Shaun Fathers, it will be his first chance to see how his side is shaping up for the 2011 season.

Fathers has been working overtime getting his players fit and with the signing of several Fijians last year’s semi-finalists should provide plenty of entertainment for their fans.

“All systems are go and the boys are itching to get out there on the field,” Fathers said.

“We have a starting 13 and a couple of the Fijians will be on the bench.”

Fathers said he is keen to see how star centre Joe Ravueta performs.

Ravueta was devastating in attack last season and his clash with Magpies centre Hughie Stanley will be a highlight.

“Joe arrived last Friday and he’s looking good. It’s our first hit-out of the season so it will be interesting how he’ll go,” Fathers said.

The action starts at 1pm.

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