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Tonga v Cumbria preview
Cumbria coach Paul Crarey reckons he has the team to turn over the Tongans in tomorrow night?s clash at Derwent Park (kick-off 7.30pm).
?We?ve worked had to put a good side together and I?ve had a lot of help from team manager Des Byrne,? Crarey told News & Star Sport.
?We have been disappointed that a few players have dropped out, especially Haven full-back Gary Broadbent who is probably the best full-back in the county.
?But Workington Town?s Martyn Wilson is going to step up to the plate and I spoke to him yesterday and he is keen and confident.
?Tonga are going to be putting out a good side with fringe NRL players and several who are out to prove a point to the coaches.
?But we have a young side and we are looking to use our pace. Big guys tire quicker than little guys and we have the likes of Carl Sice to come off the bench and Graeme Mattinson strong from dummy half.
?It?s going to be really tough and we?ve just got to sit tight for 20 minutes and kick and turn, and then play a bit of football and give them no field position whatsoever.?
All but one of the 17-man Cumbria squad is from the National League, the exception being Huddersfield Giants? winger Mat Gardner.
Crarey added: ?I think that it?s giving the chance to players who wouldn?t normally get a chance at this level and there are eight players from Haven, four from Barrow Raiders, and four from Workington Town along with Mat Gardner.
?It?s great for Cumbrian rugby league fans who can come along and cheer their own players on as well as the team.?
Crarey is looking for a perTurn to page 39
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formance rather than a result but is hopeful that Cumbria can turn over the Tongans.
?We?ve been going well in training and doing a lot of protection drills. We?re really ready for the game now and the likes of Des Byrne, Peter Smith, Mark Fryer, and my own lads from Barrow, Phil Atkinson and Dave Kendall Lee O?Brien and Paul Taylor have all given me tremendous support,? said Crarey.
?It?s a true Cumbrian effort.?
CUMBRIA: 1 Martyn Wilson, 2 Craig Calvert, 3 Derry Eilbeck, 4 Liam Harrison, 5 Mat Gardner, 6 Carl Rudd, 7 Liam Finch, 8 Marc Jackson, 9 Graeme Mattinson, 10 Dean Vaughan, 11 Mike Whitehead, 12 Brett McDermott (capt), 13 Scott McAvoy.
Replacements: 14 Carl Sice, 15 Dean Burgess, 16 Jamie Beaumont, 17 Howard Hill
Former Super League star Martin Masella will turn back the clock this evening and come out of retirement for Tonga when they take on Cumbria at Derwent Park (7.30pm kick-off).
Tongan assistant coach Masella, the former Leeds Rhinos and Warrington Wolves half-back, 36, looks set to play as Tonga are forced to rest several players who took knocks during Sunday's 18-10 World Cup 2008 victory over Samoa at Headingley.
However, half of the side that beat Samoa 18-10 on Sunday will play and their original squad has been strengthened by English and French-based players who are trying to prove their worth for the 2008 World Cup squad.
Masella told New & Star Sport: "The guys are definitely up for it and it was great to get off to a winning start and qualify for the 2008 World Cup after beating Samoa on Sunday.
"We want to keep that winning run going and will be taking tonight's game very seriously ahead of our match against England in the Federations Cup on Sunday.
?I haven't played first grade rugby for a while but played amateur back in Australia recently when I was acting in a player/coach capacity," added Masella.
"I wasn't intending to play but it's just one of those things. It will be nice to get the opportunity to play with the guys. If I last 30 minutes I'll be doing well. I'm looking forward to it and I'm sure it's going to be a good game.
"Our main focus will be on defence and if that works well, a drop goal will win it!"
Masella played his last game in the Super League for Warrington back in 2001 and his debut game in England was for the Rhinos against Whitehaven in the Challenge Cup in 1997.
Tonga look set to start with young props Sam Moa, who played against Samoa, and Joe Falemaka, who has just signed a four-year contract with South Sydney Rabbitohs, while John Sinisi (Balmain Tigers), Taufa Fukofuka (Mu'a Saints), winger Taniela Tuiaki (West Tigers), Saia Makisi (North Sydney Bears) and Lee Hansen (Leigh Centurions) all look set to play a part.
Tickets on the gate at Derwent Park are ?10 (inclusive of grandstand on a first-come, first-served basis, while concessionaries are ?7 and under-16 ?3. Gates open at approximately 6.30pm.