WINGHAM'S list of injured rugby league players continues to grow with prop Aaron Groom and fullback Blake Sky both sidelined indefinitely.
They'll will miss tomorrow's Group Three match against Macleay Valley at Wingham, a game the Tigers must win if they are to stay in the hunt for a top four berth. Wingham sit in fifth place, one shy of Port Sharks, with three matches remaining.
Groom (knee) and Sky (elbow) were both causalities from last week's 28-14 win over Taree City.
Groom is causing the most concern. He was assisted off midway through the first half and didn't return to the field.
"He's having scans this week but he might be gone for the year,'' captain-coach Mitch Collins said.
A broken wrist sustained on June 18 ended Collins's season.
"Groomie's been our most consistent and best player all year. He's a massive loss,'' Collins added.
The Tigers have games against Macleay (home), Forster-Tuncurry (away) and Port City (home) to finish the competition proper.
Realistically, Collins said his side would have to win the lot and then rely on a bit of fortune if they are going to feature in the September 3 minor semi-final.
Port Sharks play Taree City, Old Bar and Macleay Valley and would be favoured to win at least two of the games.
"It would be a massive upset if the Bulls beat them and they'll also play an understrength Old Bar side. But all we can do is keep winning and see what happens from there,'' Collins said.
Kyran Budd will play his first game of the season tomorrow.
He'll have 20 minutes in reserve grade and then play off the bench in firsts and will slot into the back row, Collins said.
The Tigers hope to retain his services for 2023.
Centre Tim Bridge, a Tiger junior, is another player Wingham hope to secure for next year after his match winning performance against the Bulls, where he was a guest player. Bridge now plays with Kurri but was given special permission to play against Taree.
"I'm trying (to sign him),'' Collins said.
"Hopefully he'll see the light and come home.''
TAREE City will look to add to Port Macquarie's recent woes in the Group Three Rugby League game at Port Regional Stadium tomorrow.
The Sharks have lost three of their last four matches and now sit in fourth place on the ladder. At season's start the Sharks were a popular elect to be a major contender for overall honours.
Taree City captain-coach Trae Clark said his side is looking for a positive end to the season. However, he stressed that playing out the 80 minutes is vital. The Bulls enjoyed their first win of the season when beating Wauchope a fortnight ago and led Wingham 8-0 midway through the first half last week before going down 28-14.
Tomorrow's under 18 game could be a preview of the minor semi-final, with the Bulls (12 points) in third and the Sharks (10) fourth. The Bulls would need to keep winning to claim third, as second placed Macleay Valley has the bye this round.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.