ALL backline places remain open for Old Bar's first round Group Three Rugby League clash against Macleay Valley at Old Bar on Saturday April 6.
Coach Jamie Moorehead said the forwards look reasonably settled. But it's a different story in the backs, from halfback to fullback.
The Pirates will meet Wingham on Saturday at the Harry Elliott Oval at Tuncurry in the southern pre-season final. Moorehead will be sticking to the pre-season policy of rotating players to give them every opportunity to impress.
Old Bar will also have four players involved in the North Coast game at Maitland, while Joel Dark is away with work commitments.
"We have a few other players away as well,'' he said.
"But this'll give some others who deserve a game an opportunity.''
While there is some prizemoney and prestige attached to the final, Moorehead said working towards the season opener is his main priority.
He said his squad made it through last weekend's game against the Hawks without any injury worries.
Ellem cleared for Coast clash
NORTH Coast captain and lock Shannon Ellem from Old Bar has been cleared to play in the must-win Country under 23 rugby league championship match against Hunter/Newcastle at Maitland tomorrow.
Ellem smashed his nose in last Saturday's 26-20 loss to Greater Northern at Coffs Harbour.
The Bulldogs now have to beat Hunter/Newcastle by a big margin and hope other results go their way if they are going to play in the semi-finals. Coach Dean Hurrell concedes this is a long shot. While North Coast thrashed Hunter/Newcastle last year, Hurrell said the 2019 combination is much stronger.
"I watched their game against Riverina and they were a bit unlucky to lose,'' he said.
"If we go out there expecting to win easily, we'll get beaten.''
Hurrell said the Bulldogs made too many errors and conceded too many penalties against the Tigers last week.
"We were a bit rusty - it was the first game a lot of them have played this season,'' he said.
"But the Tigers were in the same boat as us, but they seemed to adapt a bit better.''
Hurrell said in all probability this will be the last chance his players will have to impress Country selectors. He added that if the Bulldogs are on their game, they have the players capable of scoring plenty of points.
North Coast women will be looking to secure a semi-final berth after defeating Greater Northern 22-0 last week.