Team loses quality for test

Cameron Hands has been brought into the Group Nine team to play Group 20 on Saturday.

Cameron Hands has been brought into the Group Nine team to play Group 20 on Saturday.

Group Nine will go into the Kelly Cup on Saturday without two of their biggest names.

Nathan Rose and Aaron Slater have withdrawn from the team to take on Group 20 at E W Moore Oval.

Slater has work commitments while Rose’s knee has kept him out of the clash.

Both were Country Bulls representatives last season, however coach James Smart believes there is plenty of depth in the under 23 age group to cover.

“It’s more so up to the Group to sort through all why they are or why they are not there,” Smart said.

“My only concern is the 17 guys we have their on Saturday.

“It’s my job to worry about how to get the best out of them.”

Cameron Hands has come in for Rose while new Tumut recruit Dan Kilian comes into the forwards.

Connor McCauley has also been brought in for Hayden Jolliffe. 

All three have been named to play in various Group Nine games on Sunday.

The representative fixture was changed to under 23s to follow the Country Championship shift in an attempt to help combat a lack of interest in senior representative football.

Rose had knee surgery over the off-season and will instead focus his attentions on the grand final rematch against Smart’s Gundagai the day after the representative 

“I think it is the demands of playing back-to-back footy when the rep season comes around,” Smart said.

“He’s obviously been doing it for a number of years now and whether he was comfortable to do continue to do that I’m not really sure.”

Hands led the team around the training paddock on Wednesday and with plenty of big game experience under his belt for the Diesels, Smart expects he will comfortably step into the role.

“He is someone that was very close and right up there when we were talking about the team in the first place,” Smart said.

“He trained there and I feel really comfortably with him being there.

“He is a really good director, a good on field talker and can push the team around the paddock really well.”

Smart remains confident he has to team to come home with Riverina rugby league bragging rights.

The under 23s will play Group 20 at 6pm.

Under 16s start off the day of representative football at 2pm followed by under 18s and the leaguetag.

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