Falcons' depth to be put to the test
RUGBY LEAGUE: The Sunshine Coast's depth will be stretched more than it has been at any time this season on Sunday but coach Eric Smith has plenty of faith in his line-up.
The Queensland Cup ladder leaders are likely to be without key players through injuries, absences, suspension and NRL commitments and Smith has named a relatively inexperienced team for the round 18 clash with Norths at Nanango.
The likes of Caleb Daunt, Trent Schaumkel, Tom Rafter, Dalton Phillips and Ben Henderson are on the team sheet.
Smith was still deciding on a front-rower.
But he said those named have plenty to offer.
"I think this weekend we'll probably be stretched the most in regards to our depth,” he said.
"But whenever they (fringe players) have stepped up they have done a good job for us.
"They're probably going to have to play a few more minutes this weekend and do a bit of a bigger job but every time they've come in they've done a really good job.”
Smith said he was impressed by their gusto.
"Just their enthusiasm, from some of the guys like Hendo and Rafter, who hadn't played Queensland Cup until this year and Nat McGavin, who has had a breakout year after only playing one game previous to this year.
"It's the same with Sammy Burns, who is having a breakout year in the Cup as well.
"They treat every game as though it might be their last in a while. They rip in and they don't want to let anyone down. They know how well the guys have been going and they just want to come in and continue that trend.”
Smith said his side would relish the challenge against their fifth-placed opponents.
"We're going to have a team of players who are really enthusiastic to go out and get the win and there's nothing better than being up against it, against the odds and fighting your way to victory.”
Game-breaking fullback-pivot Nicho Hynes was not named but has been rated a 50 per cent chance of playing.
The Storm affiliate is nursing a jaw injury suffered in round 16.
"We're unsure with him. He's still pretty sore,” Smith said.
"He hasn't been back into full training yet and we don't want to rush him when we've got the bye next weekend.
"We're happy for him to take that extra time if he needs it.
"If he did come back it would be great but at this stage he's still 50-50.”
Smith also commended Queensland Rugby League's Country Week initiative, which takes games to regional and rural areas.
FALCONS: N McGavin, S Earl, N Saumalu, S Moceidreke, J Reuben, C Daunt, T Murphy, TBC, H Grant, T Schaumkel, D Hogan (c), C Lewis, S Burns. Interchange: T Rafter, D Phillips, B Henderson, J Ballinger.