It’s go­ing to be on for young and old at ANZ

Townsville Bulletin - - Sports -

TONIGHT is the battle of the new blood against the old.

While that de­scrip­tion may have peo­ple think­ing of 24-year-old Josh Morris up against 31-year-old Lote Tuqiri, it re­ally ap­plies to both wingers’ clubs.

Few teams are such po­lar op­po­sites this sea­son as west­ern Syd­ney pow­er­houses Can­ter­bury and Wests Tigers.

Tonight’s block­buster clash at ANZ Sta­dium pits a clas­sic club on the re­bound against the ti­tle hot­shots who are des­per­ate to make the most of their pre­mier­ship win­dow.

Aside from Mel­bourne and their salary cap-in­flicted woes and the new-look Cow­boys, no club has un­der­gone more ros­ter changes than Can­ter­bury.

The Dogs will trot out five new faces tonight in Trent Hod­kin­son, Kris Keat­ing, Ai­den Tol­man, Sam Kasiano and Frank Pritchard.

Only hooker Michael En­nis re­mains from the the team’s ‘‘ spine’’ as coach Kevin Moore un­leashes a new halves pair­ing, a new full­back and a rookie front-rower.

The con­trast with the Tigers could not be greater. Coach Tim Sheens will have only one new face in a team whose core mem­bers have been to­gether since 2005.

Iron­i­cally, the player is Bull­dog, winger Matt Utai.

No won­der the Tigers will start the match as $ 1.80 favourites and why, with the likes of Benji Mar­shall, Rob­bie Farah and Chris Heigh­ing­ton lead­ing the way, they have been talk­ing up their ti­tle cre­den­tials.

Again, the con­trast with the Bull­dogs is great.

The talk from Bel­more all sum­mer – and head­ing into tonight’s game – has been of cau­tious op­ti­mism.

Not that the Tigers will un­der­es­ti­mate their neigh­bours. Tuqiri is im­pressed by the sight of a trimmed down Ja­mal Idris and a pack that boasts Kiwi wreck­ing ball Frank Pritchard.

‘‘ They prob­a­bly didn’t go as well as they thought they would last year and

a

for­mer

Josh Morris

Lote Tuqiri they’d want to rec­tify that and they’ve got a squad to do it,’’ Tuqiri said.

‘‘ Look­ing at all the teams, they’ve bought re­ally well and they’ll be well served.’’

To un­der­score his point, Tuqiri points to the head-to-head match-ups.

The gi­ant winger and his left-side cen­tre part­ner Chris Lawrence will face off against Idris and Steve Turner.

On the right side of the field, Morris and Bryson Good­win will battle Blake Aysh­ford and Utai.

Then there’s the gilt-edged battle of the hook­ers, Farah and Michael En­nis.

Morris, who re­cently re-signed with the Dogs for three years, says con­fi­dence in the Bull­dogs camp is sky high and they will be back in the mix.

‘‘ There are a lot of new faces and I think that’s what makes this year re­ally ex­cit­ing,’’ Morris said.

Bull­dogs cap­tain Andrew Ryan is also adamant the Dogs can be con­tenders this year af­ter slip­ping to 13th last sea­son. Ryan be­lieves the Dogs can re­peat their 2009 sea­son, when they bounced back from ‘‘ win­ning’’ the wooden spoon to fin­ish sec­ond. The turn­around came on the back of sign­ing Brett Kim­mor­ley, Michael En­nis, Morris, Ben Hannant and David Stagg.

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