Hawks pair hope to be injury free

TWO Forster-Tuncurry rugby league players who have endured a horror couple of seasons because of injury will be hoping for better fortune in 2014.

Five-eighth Sam McCartney and hooker Tom Freeman both had little game time because of on-going injury concerns. However, both are expected to play in Sunday's XX Trophies pre-season match against Old Bar at Old Bar.

McCartney's injury problems started in the 2012 Forster Sevens tournament, however, Forster coach Mick Basham has no qualms about playing him in a pre-season.

"He wants to play,'' Basham said.

Basham said the Hawks had lost a number of players from last season for varying reasons. Rumone Jackson and Kurt Lewis are at Old Bar while Matt Finlayson is at Scone. Mitch Jennings now works in Wollongong while Byram Stewart isn't playing this season.

Chris Coulton will undergo shoulder surgery while Kyle McGregor has moved to Wyong. However Basham said the Hawks have moved to cover the gaps.

As reported on Wednesday a former Country prop Mark Kirkland has joined the club along with a prop or backrower, Ivan Polchak from Sawtell. Brotherss Jake, Ben and Sam Russell from Greta Brankston are further gains.

Utility back Kurtis Tuilewa returns to the Great Lakes after a stint with Ryde Eastwood. He'll miss Sunday with a broken arm but Basham is confident he won't be sidelined for too long. Last season's premiership winning under 18 skipper, lock Jake Collins, will push for a first grade spot while hooker Jesse McCarthy played some first grade last year and will be another contender.

As well stalwarts Luke Ross, Dean Basham, Josh McCartney and Chris Simon remain with the club, McCartney rejecting a captain-coaching offer from a rival Group Three club to stay with the Hawks.