Butchers' big names sidelined for opener

RUGBY LEAGUE

Pre-season trials have made an unwanted impact on Thirroul ahead of their season opener against Collegians on Sunday.

Coach Nathan Fien will debut for his new club at halfback but injuries mean the Butchers will be without prop Jamie Feeney, former Super League star and Irish international Damien Blanch and Denan Kemp for their clash with the defending premiers.

"In terms of starting the season fresh we've got a couple of our bigger names out for us at the moment but that's club footy," Fien said.

The Butchers may be slightly depleted but Fien isn't expecting any sympathy from the defending premiers.

"We're expecting a side that won the premiership to come out and defend their title on home soil," Fien said.

"It's a tough one for us to start off but I've been really happy with the boys' preparation."

The Butchers play the two 2013 grand finalists in consecutive weeks to start the season and Fien said it was important they started strongly.

"Part of our focus right from our first day of training was our starts.

"It's something I wanted to address because the last few years the Butchers have started a little bit slow.

"With only six teams we don't want to be chasing our tail right from the get go so I guess the start in the first few rounds is pretty important.

"It would take a little bit of pressure off, especially with the guys we've got out at the moment.

"If we can win without those guys it'll give them a bit more time to find their feet with their injuries and we can blend them back into the side without having to rush them back."

After an off-season largely occupied by the clipboard, Fien wants to make an impression on the playing field.

"I've had a couple of runs in the trials and still get the same excitement when I run out onto a footy field.

" . . . I don't want to let anyone down and that's the way I coach as well, play for your mate and do your job, the result takes care of itself."

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