Fitter GPS side make changes for blockbuster clash with Wests

GPS coach Elwee Prinsloo has named a new look side for Saturday’s blockbuster QLD Premier Rugby clash against Wests. 

The Smith brothers return to Yoku Rd for the first time in 2019 with JP set to partner Fred Burke, who also returns from injury in the front row and Ruan to play from the bench. 

Young lock Tuaina Tualima will earn his first start, while Mitch King returns to the Jeeps backrow forcing Michael Richards to shift to No.6. 

In the backs, Davis Tavita will start at flyhallf and Albert Nikoro has been named at No.15 in his first start of the season. 

After two weeks off, Prinsloo said he’s expecting a strong performance on the back of a solid preparation. 

“We had a big focus on topping up on our conditioning last week. We like to pride ourselves on staying in the fight for 80 minutes,” Prinsloo told Rugby News. 

“We also took a step back to address some of our basic principles in attack. We’ve been creating plenty of scoring opportunity but we just haven’t been clinical enough to convert as many as we should.”

Prinsloo said it’s been impossible not to be impressed with Wests’ strong start to 2019, which culminated in a 70-21 victory over UQ before the Easter break. 

“Their forward pack has been very good. They’re a real threat around set piece and they’ve certainly set the standard around their maul. 

“Then their backs also love to have a crack. Six of their tries against UQ came from either turn over ball or an intercept so it’s pretty evident that they are effective in defence and can really put the opposition attack under the pump.”

“They’ve also got their own “Hayden Parker” in Isaac Henry so they have the ability to punish you from anywhere with the boot.”

Wests coach Pat Byron said his side took some time off over Easter to recover from a hectic start to the season but said there will be no room for complacency against the defending premiers this weekend. 

“They’re a very direct, physical team and Jeeps are always up for the contest,” Byron told Rugby News. 

“Obviously with the Smith boys back, their set piece is going to be strong. 

“We need to match their physicality, and then take our chances in attack when they come.”

The Bulldogs have lost another winger to injury, their third this month, and have named Paul Ah Him to start on Saturday as they look to secure their spot in the top four. 

“We’re where we wanted to be at Easter, three wins was the goal and we achieved that by defending well and controlling our set piece,” Byron said. 

“If we can continue that, we’ll give ourselves a good shot this weekend.”

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