Charlie Barton’s decision to study online has provided Gundagai with some much needed back line reinforcements.
After finishing high school last year, Barton moved to Sydney to studying accountancy only to return to the Tigers midway through the season.
He’s come off the bench in their last two games, but will start in the centres on Sunday to help cover yet more injuries for the Tigers.
Gundagai had three players sent to hospital after a gritty win over Gundagai last week.
While Tyron Gorman was cleared off a suspected broken jaw and will take his place against the Diesels at Anzac Park, James Curgenven (concussion) and Damian Willis (ankle) are both out.
Barton and Rhys Smart come into the starting side.
The 19-year-old is looking to make the most of his chance after playing most of his nine first grade games for the club last season on the wing.
“More of my juniors I played centre and fullback so I’ve played a bit of centre, just not in first grade yet,” Barton said.
“I’ve played there in the last couple of weeks with the injuries we have had, off the bench, but it’s the first time starting in the centres.”
Barton virtually played the whole game in the centres last week when Curgenven came off early in the piece.
With Willis out as well, the 19-year-old has big boots to fill.
“They are obviously big shoes to fill but I am going to try and do my best,” Barton said.
“I’m sure Willis, when he’s fit and ready, will be back.”
Willis was cleared of a break but the Tigers are still waiting for the extent of the damage caused late in the game.
Barton is enjoying being back at home and is looking forward to helping the Tigers continue their push for a finals place
It shapes as another big game for the Tigers who moved to third on percentage after becoming only the second team to get the better of Brothers.
They moved around Junee after the Diesels shock loss to Temora, but Cootamundra are also level on 14 points with Tumut a win further adrift.
Captain-coach James Smart is looking to hit back after a 40-18 loss to Junee earlier this season.
“We were not only beaten but they flogged us and it was quite a low point for the group to be honest,” Smart said.
“It’s a feeling we certainly don’t want to have again and hopefully we can play well this weekend as both teams are on the same points on the ladder and it is a massive game.”
Jake Smart is also out of the side with Dylan Murdoch to start in the second row.