Bristow a 50-50 chance

English youngster Sandy Rae got his first taste of Group 9 football last Saturday at Anzac Park. He’ll once more be used from the interchange bench when the Blues take on Cootamundra at Twickenham this Sunday.

Tumut captain-coach Dean Bristow will tonight (Friday) decide if he can take the field in Sunday’s vital clash against Cootamundra at Twickenham.

Bristow crumpled to the ground with a back injury without a defender in sight when retrieving a kick early in the second half of last Sunday’s 24-10 loss to Gundagai.

He did his best to struggle on for the next 10 minutes, but was clearly hampered and eventually forced from the field.

The fullback is a vital cog in the Blues team and he’ll train tonight before deciding if he can play.

“I’d say I’m 50-50 at this stage,” Bristow said. “I’ll just see how it is at training.

“It’s an important game for us. We’ve put a big emphasis on winning our home games.”

The Blues are fifth, one win behind Cootamundra.

They have just the one inclusion from last week, with Todd Broad returning from a concussion break. He goes to hooker, Jason Webb shifts to the wing and Lewis Arragon to the interchange bench.

If Bristow can’t play, Draber will go back to fullback and Arragon will fill in out wide, where he proved more than capable last week.

Sandy Rae, the Blues’ UK import who was thrown into the fray for the first time against Gundagai, will again be a fresh reserve.

One player Tumut will again be missing is star outside back Fetongi Tuinauvai.

Along with Zac Masters, he’s been the team’s most important player in 2018, but there’s some doubt about his playing future in Group 9.

Tuinauvai returned to his home country of New Zealand last week and Bristow said he’s uncertain if or when he’ll return.

“I spoke to Fetongi Monday, and I’m not sure what will happen there,” Bristow said. “He’s a huge asset for us when he plays, but we just need to get on with things without him for now.”

The Blues have been perfect at home to start the season but face their biggest challenge at Twickenham in the form of Cootamundra, who have wins against Gundagai and Junee in the bank and sit in the top four.

The return of local junior and former NRL player Glen Buttriss has sparked a revival for a club that looked down and out 12 months ago.

West Wyalong pair Jake Goodwin (lock) and Jeremy Wood (prop) have added representative quality to the side.

Wood is a former Riverina player and Goodwin has spent the past couple of years with Raiders feeder club Mounties.

The Bulldogs have also lured back the likes of Jordyn Ballard and Hayden Cowled from rival clubs.

Ballard forms a handy centre pairing with the talented Matthew Forsyth, who will test Tumut’s outside defence.

Chris Maher, the Dogs’ leading tryscorer who picked up a rib injury last week, hasn’t been named in the team to travel to Twickenham.

Tumut: Dean Bristow (c), Jonathon McNamara, Michael Clark, Brayden Draber, Jason Webb, Josh Webb, Zac Masters, Todd Broad, Tom Jeffery, Adam Pearce, Matt Free, Riley Sturt, Sandy Rae, Jacob Sturt, Lewis Arragon, Charles Cribb.

Cootamundra: James Smith, Daniel Maher, Jordyn Ballard, Matthew Forsyth, Jason Cronin, Glen Buttriss, Aaron Byrne, Jeremy Wood, Patrick Cameron, Moe Clune, Hayden Cowled, Aaron Duncan, Jake Goodwin, David Buttriss, Luke Levett, James Gartside, Grant Boyd, Joshua Back.