Hawks in the wars but Tahs bolstered

DOUBTFUL: Hamilton’s Steve Sione, hero of last year’s grand final, has a fractured bone in his foot. Picture: Max Mason-HubersHAMILTON coach Scott Coleman will name a team tomorrow to take on The Waratahs in the Newcastle and Hunter Rugby Union grand final but does not expect to finalise a starting XV until match morning.

Blockbusting breakaway Steve Sione, power-packed hooker Chris Pusi and regular skipper Steve Lamont head a long list of doubtfuls after a bruising albeit comprehensive 43-8 win over Wanderers in the preliminary final.

Game-breaker Damien Wells, man of the match in the 2008 grand final and a three-time premiership winner, has a cracked sternum which forced the goal-kicking fullback to miss the win over the Two Blues and rated himself a 50-50 chance of playing at No.2 Sportsground on Saturday.

“We did a recovery session on Sunday and half the squad couldn’t walk,” Coleman said yesterday.

“I’ll have a better idea after Tuesday. That will be a light run, a video session and some recovery.

“I will name a team on Wednesday for the program but I won’t know the complete line-up until after the captain’s run on Friday night.”

Pusi and Sione are struggling with foot injuries.

Lamont rolled his ankle and is in the least doubt.

“There are a four or five pretty beaten up,” Coleman said.

“Chris pulled up with a crook foot but can’t remember how it occurred.

“He rolled his ankle five weeks ago, that is why he missed the final three rounds, but this one is at the top of his foot.

“He has been unreal all season and was one of our best again on the weekend.”

Sione, a two-try hero and man of the match in the Hawks’ 46-0 rout of Merewether in last season’s finale, was restricted to 10 minutes off the bench as a blood bin replacement against Wanderers.

“He is not brilliant but he played 10 minutes on the weekend,” Coleman said.

“He has a fractured bone in his foot and might have done his lisfranc ligament.

“It is on the top of the foot. If you completely rupture it, it can be your career.”

Wells is all but resigned to a bench spot after his replacement Arty Iconomou scored a hat-trick and Ben Harriss handled the goal-kicking duties with aplomb against Wanderers.

“With the chest, you take an impact anywhere on the body, especially against the big boys, it hurts,” Wells said.

The Hawks’ situation is in contrast to the Tahs, who had last weekend off after beating Hamilton 27-15 in the major semi-final.

Breakaway Dylan Heins has recovered from a shoulder injury and flyers Marcus Boyle and Francis Deng are also available leaving player-coach Hayden Pedersen a decision to make on one wing. Neither has played in the second round.

“Dylan had some inflammation of the [shoulder] joint but that has settled down which is good,” Pedersen said. “I’m still deciding on one wing spot. Francis Deng or Marcus Boyle.

“They have been training for the last couple of weeks and we could do with a bit of gas out there.”

Coleman, despite the casualty list, said he was “glad we had the run”.

Lock Joe Akkersdyk (fractured arm) came through unscathed and Aiden Kwast made a successful return from a broken nose.

“They will be fresher, but a lot of our guys were underdone with match fitness,” Coleman said.

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