Joondalup Giants coach Gus Marshall has challenged his side to make improvements from last weekend’s 30-10 loss to the Ellenbrook Rabbitohs – a result which saw them drop out of the WA Smarter Than Smoking Premiership’s top four.
With a 2-2 record through the first five rounds, the Giants sit on the cusp of the finals spots, with Marshall understanding the importance of picking up a win over the fourth-placed South Perth Lions on Saturday.
“They’re a good team, South Perth,” Marshall said.
“Our defence let us down last week so that’s what we’re looking to improve on this week. If we do that well, I reckon we can walk away with a win.”
Both sides will be without their WA State players, with Nathan Searle (Joondalup), Eddie Proudler, Jarrad Smith, Will Smith and Billy Judge (South Perth) away at the Combined Affiliated States in Darwin – something which will test each side’s depth.
“The depth will be tested but what it gives us is a real good opportunity to get looks at other guys in different positions,” Marshall said.
“We’re probably missing ten players this week but it gives ten other players to play First Grade for the Giants and show us what they can do.”
Despite the absence of Searle and the injured Dylan Davis, the Giants will be buoyed by the return of former St George Illawarra Dragons, Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs and Parramatta Eels forward Lee Te Maari.
Te Maari, a former Joondalup junior, played 78 games across a five-year NRL career – scoring two tries.
“He’s someone who has been there and done that and been at the top of our game,” Marshall said.
“We think he can do a job – hopefully he adds a bit of quality to the team.”
The Lions, meanwhile, welcome Wessell Van Tonder, Michael Guthrie, Blair Young and Zac Wood into the starting lineup after suffering a 44-30 loss to the Fremantle Roosters last weekend.
In other games around the grounds, the North Beach Sea Eagles will look to make it six wins in a row when they travel to take on the Willagee Bears while the Ellenbrook Rabbitohs host the reigning premiers, Fremantle.
Lions: 1. Kade McDonald, 2. Wessel Van Tonder, 3. Connor Hudson, 4. Michael Guthrie, 5. Josh Anstis, 6. Zac Wood, 7. Harry Debique, 8. Tim Noble, 9. Caleb Norton, 10. Kiam Fletcher, 11. Daniel Green, 12. Ethan Gourgard, 13. Blair Young, 14. Blair Wiseman, 15. Cody Laughton, 16. Jean-Charl Smith, 17. James Dimond
Coaches – Daniel Green & Isaac Thomas
Giants: 1. Brenton Scott, 2. Bryce McRobert, 3. Mark Huiswaard, 4. Samuel Defiddes, 5. Deyton Takurua, 6. Davey Martin, 7. Caleb Reedy, 8. Samuel Samuela, 9. Te Wheoro Jones, 10. Adam Smith, 11. Daniel Sneddon, 12. Keanu Te Tai, 13. Daniel Smith, 14. Kukutai Jones, 15. Connor Favell, 16. Lee Te Maari
Coach – Gus Marshall