Inverell Highlanders' 2017 season kicks off against Tamworth at Rugby Park

Tamworth are embracing the KISS principle for their Central North season opener against Inverell in Inverell on Saturday.

Coming off a good trial win over Coonamble earlier in the month, new Magpies coach Craig Summers has just asked his players to work on their individual jobs.

”We’ll be just keeping it simple, not trying to be too flamboyant too early,” Summers said.

He said they have trained well this week but are a bit light on for numbers.

“We’ve got 10 or 12 blokes away this weekend,” he said.

He will start in the second row partnering Dominic Sills. Sills is one of two players still eligible for the 19s in the run-on side, with Cooper Thompson named at wing. 

Both get their chance after impressing through the pre-season.

Another strong performer in the trial games was Kieran McHugh. He’ll partner Dylan Cross in the centres.

They will have a new halves combination playing inside of them with new recruit Henry Noble teaming up with Billy Urquhart.

Noble previously played with Moree and will be a great asset, Summers said.

“His communication and guiadance around the paddock from half-back will be great,” he said.

He is expecting the Highlanders to play a reasonably structured game, and a tough forward encounter, but is looking forward to it.

“It’s the culmination of a long pre-season. We started with the sevens back in November,” he said.

“The boys are really switched on and keen.”

The Highlanders claimed the points in the corresponding game last season 33-29.

A long offseason of intense tactical training and limited player turnover will see an experienced, more strategic Highlanders line up looking to back up their win on home turf at the weekend.

“We have a really good spread of talent,” playing club president Josh Phillips said.

“We have experienced backs and experienced forwards. We have some young guys coming in as well.” 

Phillips said the Highlanders would capitalise in 2017 on the team’s experience.

“Some teams are more known for their forwards or their backs. 

“But from No. 1 to 15, we are pretty well-spread regarding talent and ability and where we can score points.”

He said the clash against the Magpies will be a good test to start the season proper.

“They are usually a pretty intense, pretty even side with us. So, we are definitely not taking it lightly,” he said.

Leader: James Bracken will start at breakaway and captain Tamworth in their season opening clash with Inverell on Saturday. Photo: Geoff O'Neill.

Leader: James Bracken will start at breakaway and captain Tamworth in their season opening clash with Inverell on Saturday. Photo: Geoff O'Neill.

Nick Cummings and Josh Stewart will move up to first grade this year, joined by new players Justin Power, from Albies, and Craig Curtain.

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