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7 May, 2021

Egan back in the halves

BARLOW Park will come alive this weekend when the Northern Pride meet Souths Magpies on Saturday evening.

By Peter McCullagh

PHOTO: Brett Pascoe

Northern Pride Coach, Ty Williams has named a strong line-up to take on a surging Magpies.

The halves combination has changed for the third time this season, not due to poor form, but more to do with the strength and players being called up for Cowboy’s duties.

Tully product, Jake Clifford has returned to the Cowboys line up replacing Ben Hampton who is injured.

Clifford’s promotion has opened the way for Matthew Egan to return to his favoured position of halfback.

Tom Steadman has moved from half back to five eight.

Egan in his second season with the Pride was overlooked for the number 7 jersey in round one. According to his coach Williams, Egan didn’t drop his head, he got on with the business of playing footy.

Putting effort into his training Egan earned his place back in the team. Recruited by Williams for the 2020 season, Egan managed only one game last season and looks ready to impress.

Egan has been playing this season for Innisfail proving to be a game-changer, when on the field.

"Watching him play, if he doesn’t play, the game has a different result,” he said.

“He’s been very dominant on that left edge so obviously, with Cliffo not available for us, Matt gets his opportunity.”

When notified by Williams of his recall to the team, Egan was quite emotional. Picking up the number 7 jersey was obviously very important for him.

Williams described the moment as “pleasing as a coach” and “really cool” to be able to share the good news with a player, even if it got emotional.

“The good thing about Matt is he challenged me after Round 1 and asked the reason why he didn’t get picked,” Williams said.

“There were a few things I needed him to work on, but obviously I went with the bigger body in Tommy, but he’s kept working and working.

“He hasn’t dropped his bundle, he’s been front and centre with everything and I’ve been telling him every week you’ve just got to be patient, you’re going to get your chance.”

He’s in a good headspace at the moment and this is a reward for him, and the playing group will be happy to see him get that opportunity this weekend.”

Joining this week’s team as well is Evan Child in the centres. Playing the start of the season as an edge backrower for Brothers in the CDRL, Child has impressed Williams.

“The first four rounds for Cairns Brothers he’s been a massive difference. He’s trained the last 3 weeks in the centres, it’s good to have his versatility as well.”

Reporting of the injuries to Jayden Hodges (ankle) and Matt Muscumeci (shoulder), both players are on back-to-run programs, with no surgery required.

Williams said Musumeci was another two weeks away, while Hodges was “touch and go” for this weekend’s matchup. An assessment will be made later this week as to whether Hodges will play. However with two major away games this month, Williams feels they will be careful regarding a return to football for both injured players.

Round 5 Man of the Match winner, Ewan Moore gets to start again from the bench. Williams relies upon Moore as an impact player off the bench.

Williams believes the Pride will need to be on their game this weekend playing Souths. Playing in the centres for Souths is code hopper Karmichael Hunt in his quest to return to the NRL.

Playing last round against the Mackay Cutters, Hunt scored plus assisted with two other tries in Souths demolition of the Cutters 60 – 10.

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