By PETER ROWE
North Beach winger Ryan Woolley will be hoping to get one over his personal trainer Travis Haney when the Sea Eagles meet the Joondalup Giants in the NRL WA Fuel to Go and Play rugby league Premiership derby at Admiral Park tomorrow. (Sat)
American Haney used to play running back for Western State Colorado in the US college system and since turning to league has been mentoring Woolley in the gym. But friendships will stay firmly off the park as the pair go head-to-head in a clash both teams want to win to extend their unbeaten start to the 2022 season.
“There’s a few links between the clubs so it’s a tough but friendly rivalry,” North Beach coach Phil Douche said.
“As with all derbies it will be tough, it always is up there. Games between us are very physical, so we have prepared for a battle.”
Beach will be without centre Kalis Mason with a hamstring injury, which gives Bailey Miller his first start of the season at fullback and the Giants will be missing three players as well, including the suspended Josh Houghton.
“The matchup between Travis and Ryan will be great to see,” coach Taurean Sheehan said.
“Travis’ gridiron connection saw him take two of our players to the local competition this past summer and they loved it.”
Sheehan said Takiri Kara would be in his side for the derby, despite suffering a fractured nose last weekend.
“He’s a tough kid and told me at training he was ready to play again. That shows real commitment,” Sheehan added.
South Perth will be hoping to get their season up and running when they host Ellenbrook at George Burnett Park.
Coach Daniel Green welcomes back five players, including Jayden Hocking and Mason Hiko, and has worked hard with his squad to reduce the errors made in the North Beach defeat last weekend.
“Our ball retention was poor at Beach and we were a bit off the pace, so we’ve talked about that and we’ll be ready for whatever the Rabbitohs throw at us,” he said.
“We’ve no major injuries so I have a full squad to choose from.”
Further south Rockingham Sharks will face a sterner test when Fremantle Roosters visit the Shark Tank in Port Kennedy for a mouth-watering second round clash and coach Darren Shaw is under no illusions about his side’s chances.
“Last weekend was great to see a free scoring effort (the Sharks scored 92 points), but we all know how good the Roosters have been over recent years,” he said.
“It will be a very different challenge.”
The Sharks will be without influential half Tyler Hunt, but have recruited well in the backs and their pace around the edges will give the Roosters something to think about.
Meanwhile, an eight team women’s tackle competition kicks off tonight (Friday) when the Rockingham Sharks and Fremantle Roosters lock horns at Port Kennedy Sportsplex (6.40pm) in the game of the round.
North Beach face South Perth and Joondalup meet Ellenbrook at Admiral Park, while new team Kwinana Titans round out the week against the Willagee Bears.