Giant praise for young stars

Joondalup Giants Coach Darren Smith says he’s impressed with the performances of his young Giants through the first seven rounds of the WA Smarter Than Smoking Premiership season.

Smith singled out West Coast Pirates SG Ball Cup duo Leighmon Hohaia-Katene and Ollie Callan as players who have grabbed his attention.

“I’m a big believer in giving the young guys a chance,” he said.

Hohaia-Katene played for Joondalup’s Under 13’s side in 2012 and has scored three Premiership tries this season, while Callan has been one of the Giants’ most damaging forwards.

“Being a former coach of the juniors, it’s nice to see the juniors stay with the club and go right through to First Grade,” Smith said.

“It’s good to give them an opportunity.”

The Giants head into the bye on the back of two successive wins and sit fourth with a 4-3 record.

“It’s good to have a couple of wins, we’re just trying to get some consistency,” Smith said.

“We’ve done well some weeks and a bit patchy in other weeks.

“I’m looking forward to the challenge of the rest of the season – we’ve got a couple of players coming back.”

One of those players, five-eight Gus Marshall, is on the road to recovery from a broken ankle and has resumed training.

“Gus got through his first training session the other night. I think he’s still two or three weeks away from a full training session,” Smith said.

“He’s getting a lot better and working hard off the field with his physio.”

For now though, Smith must work with the players he has but will be without captain Macey Howarth and prop Nathan Searle next week after the pair were selected to represent WA at the Combined Affiliated States Championships in Brisbane this month.

Howarth and Searle will miss Joondalup’s Round Eight North-of-the-River derby with the North Beach Sea Eagles, and Smith hopes his young Giants will be up to the challenge.

“I’ve got a couple of different options with our halves. It’ll be a good opportunity for Mondo (Hohaia-Katene) to step up,” he said.