In light of potential suspensions to Lachlan Bristow and Jordan Anderson, the Tumut Blues will welcome back injured players with open arms as they prepare for their sudden death semi-final against Young at Anzac Park on Sunday.
The likes of Jacob Toppin and Jacob Sturt, who were not named to play against Young, are back on deck and ready to fill vital positions for Tumut.
Toppin, who has missed two weeks of footy with a rib cartilage injury, will be especially important, with playmaking options looking very thin.
“It’s all hands on deck; if we don’t win, we go to mad Monday,” Toppin laughed.
Toppin expected he would play at hooker, especially if Lachlan Bristow misses the all-important contest.
“I saw Dean (Bristow) the other night and told me the situation and it’s highly possible I will be thrown into the middle again, and if that happens, the body will be ready for it,” Toppin said.
The tough Blue said focusing on the game and his job should help him get through the 80 minutes.
“I’m hoping to get through the game and allow the adrenaline to take over,” Toppin said.
“The fitness will be another tough one, but it will just be good to get back out there and contribute to the team.”
Toppin, who was a key player in Tumut’s grand final success last season, said he wanted a chance to win a second grand final with the club, especially for the new players in the team.
“It’s massive, for some of these boys, it’s their first year playing in a Blues grand final,” Toppin said.
“Especially with blokes like Bob Sturt, Fenny (Michael Fenn) and Poom (Parish Bellette), to make a grand final would be massive for those fellas,” Toppin said.
Blues co-captain/coach Dean Bristow could not emphasise enough the importance of Toppin being available to play.
“We’ve definitely missed him, Toppo is a quality player,” Bristow said.
“What he has done over the last couple of seasons speak for itself.”
Bristow wouldn’t confirm exactly what role Toppin would play, only confirming it would be a central role.
“He is a welcome inclusion. Just depending on who’s in and who’s not, that will determine what decision we make, Bristow said.
Bristow was also pleased to have another big body in Jacob Sturt available.
The younger forward had been working away nicely in the back row and has been one of the club’s quiet achievers, getting through a lot of work in what is a star-studded Blues pack, before an untimely ankle injury sustained at a training session prior to round eight.
“Bob is another big in for us. I’m not sure how we’ll use him yet, but I’ll assess where he is at and go from there,” Bristow said.
“He has been great for us this year and he was starting to find his feet before he got injured and it is great to have him back.”