BROTHERS will welcome back a host of players for their second and final pre-season trial game this Saturday.
A positive pre-season for the Wagga club continued last weekend when they travelled to Shellharbour for their first hit-out of the season.
Brothers were gallant in their 12-4 defeat in first grade, but their improved depth was on show with a 12-10 win in the reserve grade fixture.
It was a big effort from the club, given they travelled with just 28 players across two grades.
"We could only get about 28 players to make the trip away so it was pretty good," Brothers co-coach James Hay said.
"We had five or six players play good minutes in reserve grade and then be our bench in first grade.
"I'm pretty excited."
Hay got a rare opportunity to take on his brother Nick in the game against Shellharbour, who also boasted fellow Brothers product Ed Ansell.
Hay was pleased to see such a strong defensive effort against the Group Seven club, given it has been a key focus of the pre-season.
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"They had a massive wind behind them in the first half and they had all the ball for the first 25 minutes and only got one try in. We basically defended on our line for pretty much the whole time so I was pretty happy with our defence," he said.
"We've got a month now to try and get a little bit better with our attacking structures.
"We've been spending most of the pre-season on defence, defensive structures and defensive techniques. That's definitely an area we identified that we wanted to work on.
"You can't win a comp, or even be competitive with the top teams if you can't defend. You look at a team like Young and they can put 24, 26 points on you in no time so we want to make sure we're strong in defence."
James Morgan was one to impress for Brothers at full-back, while the Blackett brothers, Fletcher and Bas, who have crossed from Group 20 club Leeton, made an impact in the forwards.
Brothers will now turn their attention towards the annual David Mavroudis Shield against Coogee Dolphins at Parramore Park on Saturday.
Brothers will welcome back the Price brothers, Edan and Cade, Morris brothers, Clifford and Maleke, and Rhys Weldon for the second trial.
Hay is looking forward to the clash and will then use the remaining three weeks to get everything in order ahead of Brothers' round one clash against Gundagai.
"That gives us three weeks to iron out any areas that we need to get done in time for round one," he said.
"We've got a pretty tough first three weeks on the draw so we want to be ready to go but we also want to be fresh."
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