WAGGA Tigers coach Murray Stephenson is optimistic he will return to the line-up by around the end of next month, with his hamstring injury ensuring they'll need to find a Plan B to contain Coolamon's dangerous forwards on Saturday.
Stephenson sat out most of the second half of last week's loss at Mangoplah, which leaves the Tigers still searching for a first win for the year.
The Tigers have been given arguably the toughest early season draw of anyone in the Riverina League, with their first home game against top three fancy Coolamon following trips to last year's heavyweights Mangoplah-Cookardinia United-Eastlakes and Ganmain-Grong Grong-Matong.
Stephenson's injury was one of a number of injuries sustained by some of the league's best players last week, with Coolamon coach Jake Barrett (hamstring) and MCUE goal machine Trent Castles (calf) also out for at least a few weeks.
Stephenson has endured a handful of hamstring injuries previously, and won't rush himself back as a result.
"In terms of the hamstrings I've done, this is definitely the mildest of all of them," Stephenson said.
"I don't think it's something that needs scans. The following day after the game it pulled up reasonably well.
"It looks like probably three to four weeks, but with my history beforehand I might add a week on.
"I've fallen into that trap before (coming back too early). When I did one (hamstring) in South Australia I had four weeks off, got through two training sessions then redid it."
His absence only adds to a lack of experienced options for the Tigers in key positions, and other options will need to be found to contain the likes of Jeremy Maslin and Joe Redfern at Robertson Oval.
"We don't have a lot of key position players or experienced guys in terms of age," Stephenson said.
"We've got a couple of options, but there's nothing that's set in concrete just yet. We're still toying with a couple of ideas.
"They (Maslin and Redfern) are two of Coolamon's more damaging players. We probably have to put some responsibility on a couple of our older guys to do the job on them, that will probably be the way we look at it."
The Tigers' best football has looked good enough in patches this year against quality opposition.
But they haven't been able to sustain it for long enough, and Stephenson would like to see them back themselves and show more initiative from the outset, instead of waiting to chase a deficit.
"That's been the theme for the start of the year, we've been good enough but not for long enough," he said.
"Despite probably being not too efficient going forward in the Ganmain game, we thought we won enough ball at the contest, but got blown away in a quarter and they gave us a lesson.
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