RUGBY LEAGUE - ILLAWARRA COAL LEAGUE
Country representatives Nathan Smith and Jacob Hind are optimistic their recent success in Hawaii is the boost they need to lead Corrimal to their first Illawarra Coal League victory this season on Saturday.
Taking on Collegians at Ziems Park, Smith and Hind's return from the Country Firsts tour adds much-needed firepower for a Cougars team that also features mid-season recruit Jeff Moate and Dragon under 20s star George Lolo.
"It was awesome to go over there and see how things are there. It was my first trip overseas so to be over there playing rugby league was the ultimate," Smith said.
"It was unbelievable - I didn't know any of the boys and by the end of the week it was like we'd known each other for 10, 15 years.
"Me and Jacob are coming off a pretty big high so hopefully we can feed that back into the [Corrimal] boys. We'll be putting 100 per cent effort in and hopefully it can get us that first win."
The Dogs also regain much needed bark, with CRL championship-winning captain Jarrod Thompson and back-rower Blake Williamson, chasing a win that would seal their finals spot.
Smith remains wary of Collies, but said the injury-ravaged defending premiers are vulnerable at this stage.
"To be honest, at the start of the season, I don't think anyone would have said it was Collies we would be giving a good run to for our first win of the season but it's the way it's happened," Smith said.
"It's nothing against Collies, they're going to have their rep boys back as well but we're going to have pretty much our strongest side this week so we'll be giving it a good crack.
"After us not winning a game all year it would be a bit of a shock but I'm confident we can do it.
"The boys are going to try their best and hopefully if we can get the win it'll give us some confidence to run into next year."