Tuala stays in the frame for Mallee Bulls' rugby finals plans

Paul Tuala may yet turn out for the Bulls in the finals despite his NRC commitments.

Paul Tuala may yet turn out for the Bulls in the finals despite his NRC commitments.

ILLAWARRA RUGBY 

FORMER NSW Country Player of the Year Paul Tuala could return as a shock finals weapon for University.

The Mallee Bulls were resigned to the absence of Tuala for the rest of the season due to his commitments with NSW Country in the National Rugby Championship.

But it is understood the 28-year-old will be allowed to play for Uni any time he is not included in the Eagles' 23-man playing team.

The inaugural NRC season starts next Thursday and runs for 11 weeks.

The Bulls will effectively clinch second spot if they beat third-placed Kiama on Saturday at University Oval.

"If I'm not in the 23 with Country each week, it'd be awesome if I could go back and play for the club," Tuala said.

"I'm definitely going to miss playing the season out because I was looking forward to the finals. It seems at the moment that we're the only team that can knock off Avondale.

"I've missed a few games this year and the boys have smashed teams, so they don't need me to finish off the job. There's a lot of good players in our club that can step up."

University's last three games are against Kiama, Vikings and Shoalhaven.

Bulls coach Shaun McCreedy says his side is not looking past Saturday's clash.

"Kiama are travelling well. They've beaten the teams they had to beat to get into the top four," McCreedy said.

"It's a two versus three, so it'll give both teams a good indication of where we're at this stage of the season.

"The boys started to filter back in now from holidays. We've still got a couple of injuries that we're sweating on and we're hoping to get a couple of boys back before the finals, but we're probably as good as we can be at this stage of the year in terms of personnel."

Uni averaged 42.3 points in 13 games this season but McCreedy expects Kiama to slow the game down with their forwards.

"Their forwards will go for 80 minutes and they'll give as good as they get. We just have to be up for it defensively."

Camden will be out to end Avondale's unbeaten run at Gerry Cappetta Oval, the Woonona Shamrocks host Vikings and Tech Waratahs meet Shoalhaven.

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