Props out for Wingham Tigers

WINGHAM will be without two front rowers but will welcome back former NRL star Matt Bartlett for tomorrow's clash against unbeaten Group Three Rugby League competition leaders Macleay Valley at Wingham.

The Tigers will be without prop Ben Welsh, who is injured and co-prop Logan Polklington who has returned to New Zealand for family reasons. Second rower Michael Rees is also unavailable.

Fullback TJ Rudolph has returned to New Zealand as he has been accepted into the police force and won't be back in the Wingham colours again this year. Coach Stu Baker said last week that Matt Bridge will eventually switch to fullback to cover for Rudolph with Mitch Steel returning at five-eighth. However, it's understood that Steel isn't yet available.

Bartlett will play in the back row. This will be his first match for the Wingham since the opening round. He has recovered from a thigh injury while he also juggles playing with the Tigers and work commitments in Newcastle.

Wingham coach Stu Baker has yet to decide his starting 13.

However, first grade manager Craig Martin said there are a number of options for the coaching staff to consider in the forwards.

"Nathan Gallagher will come into contention while Chris and Brendan Butler have been in good form in reserve grade,'' he said.

The Tigers sit in third place and have only suffered one loss this season - to Wauchope in the second round.

Macleay are flying high at the top of the ladder with four wins from as many starts. The Mustangs are scoring plenty of points (156) and also keeping a solid defensive line, having conceded only 78.

Baker agreed after last weekend's win against Old Bar that his side will have to improve to end Macleay's run.

"But we'll put a competitive side on the field,'' Martin promised.