WAGGA Tigers will turn to brothers Ashley and Isaac Bennett to help compensate for the loss of injured coach and key defender Murray Stephenson in Saturday's crucial clash with Coolamon at Robertson Oval.
Stephenson expects to miss around a month with a hamstring injury picked up in last weeks' loss to Mangoplah-Cookardinia United-Eastlakes, which left the Tigers winless through two games.
The Hoppers have injury concerns of their own, with co-coach Jake Barrett (hamstring), Marshal Macauley (head knock) and Bailey Wood (shoulder) all out, with Wood expected to miss the season.
Isaac Bennett is a 19 year old still honing his craft, and said he learned plenty from spending time on Ganmain-Grong Grong-Matong forward George Alexander, who kicked nine goals against the Tigers in round one.
The fullback will likely face another tough assignment against Coolamon sharpshooter Joe Redfern.
"It's a bit of pressure (without Stephenson)," Isaac said.
"I played back there last year, I'm getting a bit more of the hang of it.
"Muzz (Stephenson) is really good to learn off, everything he says you to do generally works.
"Playing in front is the big thing he tells me, and to back myself. I'm not that big myself so they (big full forwards) push me around a bit, that's why I try and play in front.
"I think Ganmain and Mango are probably going to be the tougher side, but in the second half of those games we stuck it in them."
A win against Coolamon would put the Tigers in a reasonable position given their tough draw, but they have been guilty of drifting out of games for periods which has cost them any chance.
Ashley Bennett, 22, who has returned to the club after taking 2020 off and spending last year at Lockhart, is adjusting to his defensive role.
Generally a midfielder or forward, Ashley is learning his trade on half-back but is adapted well after being named in the Tigers' best the first two weeks.
"The main reason I came back is because both my brothers are here (younger brother Harry has been named in reserves)," he said.
"I've never played in the back line. I've usually been forward or mid, but Muzz lacked a few out injured at the moment with Lahn Shepherd and Lewis Waters out.
"I've actually really enjoyed it. It's been a bit of a change, but with Muzz' guidance out there it's helped.
"As a forward mid you're always trying to run off your man. But now I have to try and be pretty accountable (for my man) and find that happy medium.
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