IT’S only round three but Mangoplah-Cookardinia United-Eastlakes will blood their sixth debutant of the season on Saturday against Leeton-Whitton, with Brad Peacock called into the side.
Ryan Price (quad) and Jacob Whitley (shoulder) failed to pass fitness tests, ensuring Peacock is the latest rising Goanna to get his chance.
MCUE co-coach Travis Cohalan has full faith in the midfielder for what shapes as a daunting baptism at Mangoplah Sportsground.
“It certainly is, but he’s been training the house down,” Cohalan said.
“He was very close to (senior) selection a couple of times last year when he was playing in the 17s and he’s been in our best in reserve grade in the first two rounds.
“We’re excited to give him an opportunity.”
The Goannas have defender Isaac Damme returning but are without the suspended Dusty Rogers, meaning former Crow Nathan Hunter will start in the ruck against his old club.
“We would’ve liked to have Isaac and Nathan in the back half this week but unfortunately with Dusty out we can’t.
“Nathan will play ruck. He’s played there a lot in the O & M (Ovens and Murray League) and we’re confident he’ll do a good job there.
“That’s where he likes to play his footy and I’m sure he’s looking forward to playing his old club.”
Cohalan has the ultimate respect for Leeton-Whitton. It was in the corresponding fixture last year – early in the season on a wet day at Mangoplah – that the Crows hinted that they would be a force to be reckoned with.
MCUE got the points, narrowly, but the Crows made a point and went on to finish the regular season in the top three.
“To be honest, we respect every team we play against but we really rate Leeton as one of the teams to beat,” Cohalan said.
“I was very impressed with them last year, I thought they were one of the better teams and things just didn’t pan out for them in the finals.”
That was before the return of forward Jade Hodge, as coach, and the signing of key position players Luke Potter and Josh Grant.
“We haven’t seen them play, we don’t know a whole lot about them... but we’re expecting a big game,” Cohalan said.
Hodge, obviously, has seen his side play. He just hasn’t liked what he’s seen in a loss to Wagga Tigers and a win over Narrandera.
“The Tigers game, I’m not taking too much out of that because we couldn’t have played too much worse than what we did,” Hodge said.
“They were really good as well and they made us play the way we did.
“But even on the weekend (at Narrandera) we only played two quarters of footy.
“I think we’ve only played three quarters of what we’re capable of, out of the two games.”