Parramatta injuries concern Smith - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Parramatta injuries concern Smith

By Brent Read 19/02/2003 10:59:39 PM Comments (0)

Parramatta coach Brian Smith admits the fitness of captain Nathan Cayless, NSW fullback Brett Hodgson and five-eighth Adam Dykes is causing him plenty of angst less than a month out from the club's National Rugby League opener.

Cayless (knee), Hodgson (shoulder) and Dykes (shoulder) are yet to play in the pre-season and will miss the club's final trial against the Wests Tigers this weekend, heading into the season without any game time under their belt.

But that could be the least of Smith's worries, with the Eels coach conceding all three are racing the clock to be ready for the opening NRL game against the Sydney Roosters at Aussie Stadium on March 14.

"We have most of the guys back but we're still waiting for a couple," Smith said. "It's going to be very close to see whether Hodgson, Cayless and Adam Dykes in particular are ready for the first NRL game.

"It's certainly a worry. I'd prefer for them to be playing but you can't always have it as you want it.

"They're training really hard those three. Nathan Cayless in particular is looking really good."

Their absence this weekend has given Smith a final chance to cast his gaze over some of the club's fringe players at Campbelltown Stadium.

Ex-Cronulla winger Ronald Prince gets his chance with Luke Burt moving to fullback to cover for Hodgson, while Penrith recruit Lee Hopkins and World Sevens star Dean Widders will get their final chance to impress in the race to partner Nathan Hindmarsh in the second row.

Steve Crouch will also get a shot off the bench, where he will start alongside NSW forward Michael Vella, who makes his return from injury.

"The back row is one of the fiercely competitive spots," Smith said. "I think you would find it hard to leave Nathan Hindmarsh out of there. He's got one spot locked up.

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