ALBURY captain-coach Ben Jeffery is the latest big name player to withdraw for Group Nine’s representative team as they prepare to take on Group 20 in the Kelly Cup on Friday night.
The rescheduling of the game following the City-Country has cost Group Nine one of its biggest attacking weapons.
Jeffery pulled out earlier this week with his partner due to give birth.
Phil Latu has returned to the squad to replace Jeffery, after the Gundagai winger had a clash with the previous date.
Junee fullback Daniel Foley will move off the bench to cover Jeffery at fullback.
Jeffery’s Albury teammate Andrew Smith is still in doubt for the clash with his former group, with the utility struggling with a calf complaint.
Gundagai captain-coach Cameron Woo has been brought in as cover.
Jeffery was set to captain the team, but the honour has now been bestowed on his Southcity counterpart Nick Skinner.
In good news for Group Nine, Peter Little has been passed fit for the game.
Jeffery’s loss comes after another former St George-Illawarra player Michael Henderson pulled out of the team with an ankle injury, but coach Andrew Hinchcliffe is confident the team can cover the losses.
“I’m really happy with Daniel Foley, he’s been to all out training runs and is a very capable young guy,” Hinchcliffe said.
“In saying that replacing Ben Jeffery is a tough ask, but I’m looking forward to seeing how he goes.”
Hinchcliffe hasn’t coached since his last role with Kangaroos in 2013, but is happy with how the team is coming into the game.
“It’s been going really well and the extra week was good to get prepared,” Hinchcliffe said.
“Obviously coaching Group Nine is a bit new and no doubt it’s similar to every year with a lot of reshuffling going on and movement with players going in and out.
“It probably hasn’t helped with the rescheduling, but it’s all going well.”
Group Nine scored a dominant 44-28 win in the corresponding fixture last year and Hinchcliffe is out to continue their good run.
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