ON-going problems with his troublesome knees will force Taree City coach Todd Bridge to sit out the remainder of the Group Three Rugby League season.
Bridge, 28, has undergone knee reconstruction surgery on three occasions. He returned to football this season after sitting out 2018. In 2017 he was named halfback in the Group Three team of the year.
Bridge said after taking on the coaching role this year that he would play if his knees could stand up to the week-in-week-out grind. He's started in three matches.
"But I've spoken to a specialist and a physio and they say the knee isn't where it should be, so I won't be playing again this year,'' he said.
Taree meets Macleay Valley at Kempsey on Sunday, going into the match on the back of consecutive heavy losses.
"We've had a talk about where we're going wrong in defence and with our completions. But there's a time when the talking has to stop and we start doing something about it,'' Bridge said.
The Bulls are still just two points out of the top five and while Bridge concedes Sunday will be a big ask, he is confident the side can bounce back.
"It looks as though Macleay, Wauchope and Wingham are head and shoulders above the rest, but there's not much between the other sides,'' Bridge said, saying the playoffs remain on his radar.
He hopes to have forwards Josh Northam and Rob Mason back for this week. Northam has been out since the first game after damaging his foot while Mason missed the game against Port City last week with a knee injury. Both have been named on the bench.
They'll also provide some authority in the middle of the field badly missing in the disappointing performance against the Breakers last weekend.
Shane Morcombe has been elevated to the starting side in the centres while Jake Lauder moves from centre to fullback. Dean Mills will swap the number one jumper for the seven and will have the job of steering the side around the field.
Club junior Sam Murray made a comeback for the Bulls last week and has been named at five-eighth, with Toby De Stefano switching from half to lock.
Bridge said he wants to make more use of De Stefano's running game and he thinks he is better suited to lock.
Thomas Paulson, who has spent three stints in the sin bin in the last two games, moves from lock to the bench.
Macleay joined Wauchope on top of the ladder last weekend when beating the Blues 20-19 in the game at Wauchope.
The Mustangs were behind 19-6 at halftime.