Back injury hampers Smart, likely to miss

CAUTIOUS APPROACH: Gundagai captain-coach James Smart is expected to miss the clash with Temora on Sunday with a back injury.

CAUTIOUS APPROACH: Gundagai captain-coach James Smart is expected to miss the clash with Temora on Sunday with a back injury.

A back issue is expected to sideline Gundagai captain-coach James Smart.

Smart wasn’t named to take on Temora on Saturday after the re-occurrence of the back complaint.

He’s looking to manage the issue and doesn’t expect to face the Dragons at Nixon Park.

“An old back injury has flared up a little bit over the last couple of weeks,” Smart said.

“I’ve been trying to manage it as best as I can, but it is getting the better of me at the moment.

“I need to have a break.”

However Smart isn’t expected to be out for too long.

“I don’t think there will any dramas next week, I think I should be fine,” he said.

No stranger to problems with his back, Smart is looking to take a cautious approach.

Before returning to the Tigers last season, he sat out 2015 because of his back and he doesn’t want to find himself in a similiar position this time around.

However things could change on how his teammates pull up from the Country Championships game on Saturday.

“On Tuesday I was definitely out and while I feel alright now we’ve already made some changes and the guys have been there and done it before and are in good form at the moment," Smart said.

“We will see how the guys from the rep game pull up on Saturday too.

“If one of those boys need a rest that could change things so we will wait and see.”

Chris Rose has been named to play alongside James Luff in the halves.

Smart isn’t the only change with Blake Dunn also out for the Tigers.

Luke Berkrey has taken his place in the second row with Kieran Pearce switching to lock and Matt Henery to start in the front row.

Meanwhile, Sam Elwin is back for the Dragons.

Elwin hasn’t played all season after a lengthy stint playing in Avignon in France.

Grant Boyd didn’t name a halfback and despite Elwn being rushed into the Dragons squad for the vital clash with the Tigers he doesn’t expect to fill the role.

“I’ll be back, but I’ll be playing off the bench because I’m still a bit sore from the travel and (last) weekend,” Elwin said.

Elwin’s comeback for the Dragons is a huge boost for a team needing to string together several wins to strengthen their bid for the finals.

Temora are having their charity ‘red day’ and after being involved in the fixture last season, Smart expects to take on a fired up Dragons outfit.

“Last year we learned the hard way,” he said.

“It was a tough day for us and we scraped through with a win but they certainly stuck it to us and were coming at us right until the end of the game.

“We know that we need to play well this weekend.”