Before the spectacle that is State of Origin hits Perth Stadium this weekend, all eyes will be on Blueforce Park when the North Beach Sea Eagles host the Fremantle Roosters in a stand-alone WA Smarter Than Smoking Premiership fixture on Saturday.
North Beach go into the fixture as the competition’s only unbeaten side having won their first six games of the season, with coach John Hough vary his side have a target on their back.
“Being the team that has not lost anything, then teams are going to target you,” Hough said.
“It’s something that comes with it, but we’re focussed on Fremantle and the next 10 games.”
Fremantle, meanwhile, sit second on the ladder with a 5-1 record through their first six contests.
After falling to a 42-22 loss to the Sea Eagles in Round 1, the Roosters have won their last five games and know a victory on Saturday will be good enough to lift them to the top of the standings due to a better for-and-against.
“It’s been a really good rivalry over the last couple of years and I’m not expecting anything other than a good game,” Hough said.
In team news, the Roosters welcome back centre Regy Manu and utility Taiapa Graham while Ezra Taomia, Sonny Kerr and Nikau Sollet-Mackay drop out following last weekend’s 66-6 thrashing of the Joondalup Giants.
The Sea Eagles, meanwhile, come into the fixture fresh off the bye and welcome back WA State players Josh Benjamin, Brad Sharpham, Trent Trotter and Adam Roy.
“It’s been a long while coming back – everyone’s looking forward to it,” Hough said.
The ladder leaders will be without Ben Taylor, however, after the fullback picked up an arm injury during the Combined Affiliated States Championships.
The game kicks off at 3.30pm as a stand-alone fixture.
The Rockingham Sharks host the South Perth Lions, while the Joondalup Giants take on the Willagee Bears to complete the Round 8 fixtures on Sunday, 29 June.
Sea Eagles: 1. Kahan Joyce-Vaughan, 2. Tye Saus, 3. Kani Solomon, 4. Jayden De Vorms, 5. Brad Sharpham, 6. Cairo Takarangi, 7. Jeremy Wallace, 8. Eoghan Lofts, 9. Trent Trotter, 10. James Blake, 11. Josh Benjamin, 12. Adam Roy, 13. Bow Stein, 14. Terelli Whaanga, 15. Wiremu Paki, 16. Sam Buckley, 17. Justin Buckley
Coach – John Hough
Roosters: 1. Alan Cowen, 2. Mitchell Wade, 3. Regy Manu, 4. Manihera Eden, 5. Cameron Rupapera, 6. Delane Edwards, 7. Cassius Read, 8. Callin Tereu, 9. Blake Hignett, 10. Brad Gibson, 11. Duane Butler, 12. Tarin Katu, 13. Bjorn Crotty, 14. Tamaho Teirney, 15. Takaroha Penaha, 16. Aaron Hodges, 17. Raana Peakman, 18. Taiapa Graham, 19. Tane Peakman, 20. Ricky Cathro
Manager – Zac Speir