NSW CUP RUGBY LEAGUE
Cutters coach Ian Millward says he may need to delve deeper into the Illawarra Coal League ranks as mid-season injuries begin to bite.
Collegians stars Sam Duggan and Tyron Cranston have earned call-ups to the Cutters for their match with Penrith at Collegians Sports Centre on Sunday, as has Wests back-rower and Fijian international Peni Botiki.
"We've got a few injuries but I think we'll get a lot of clubs now with some wear and tear," Millward said.
"It's mid-season and that sometimes bites into you.
"Sometimes it's injuries, sometimes it can be form, sometimes it can be mental, but we've got a few injuries.
"It obviously gives guys in the Coal League the opportunity, after a good preparation, to play for the Cutters."
Duggan's call-up follows an injury to Collies teammate Kyle Eather against Newtown last week while Cranston has been called onto the wing following Brett Morris's injury in Wednesday's State of Origin match forced a reshuffle at Dragons level.
"We had a few [Coal League] players there [already].
"One of them is Kyle Eather who's been really good for us from Collies and he got injured on the weekend," Millward said.
"It gives Sam Duggan a chance to come back in. Sam's played quite a few games for us and he's been successful when he has played for us.
"We actually haven't lost a game with Sam there.
"Peni Botiki from Wests comes back in and Tyron Cranston [Collies] comes back in so there's quite a few [Coal League] players there. They've trained really well and they're itching for a chance."
West and Collegians will kick off at the earlier time of 2.15pm on Sunday ahead of the Cutters clash with the Panthers at Collegians Sports Centre.
The Cutters are out to avoid three consecutive losses against the second-placed Panthers after going down 42-22 in their Tom Kirk Cup clash with Newtown last week.
"The first loss was against Wenty [Wentworthville] and they're the team that's running first. There was nothing in that game, it was a six-point game ... it could have gone either way so I was really happy with our form," Millward said.
"Newtown away, they're a strong team, they were very physical.
"I felt we were a little bit flat, the week before took a lot out of us.
"There wasn't much in it but their quality on the day was just better than ours. With the season we've had so far we're entitled to one bad performance.
"If we were playing teams at the bottom and losing that would set off alarm bells, but it's not alarm bells at the moment."