ISC: Seagulls name 11 newcomers
FORMER Newcastle Knights' prop Damian Sironen will make his first appearance since 2014 for Tweed Heads, in their Intrust Super Cup opener on Sunday.
Former captain Sironen, who returned to the club in 2017 after two years with the Knights, is one of 11 newcomers named in coach Aaron Zimmerle's 20-man squad to take on Ipswich Jets at Piggabeen.
Cousins Linton and Brayden McGrady, Adam Barnes, Regan Muir, Carne Doyle, Lamare Liolevave, Nick Harrold, Ben Nakabuwa, Shane Gillham, Sam Carson and Mackenzie Reed will all make their debuts following a significant list turnover after the 2016 season.
While the new-look Seagulls are also expected to receive an injection of Titans players not named in Gold Coast's NRL opener, key players are set to miss due to injury and suspension.
Consistent prop Ethan Price is out indefinitely with back issues, while centre Tevita Folau and lock Dane Clarke are suspended for one match.
Folau has carry-over points from last season while Clarke was suspended for a tackle in the trial against Souths Logan.
Fijian prop Tikiko Noke was unavailable for selection.
Zimmerle said the Seagulls had added depth and strength to their squad after finishing a disappointing 13th in 2016 which had seen players battling for spots.
"There were obviously some tough decisions, especially after so many good performances in the trials,” he said.
"Every player knows he's under pressure for his position and those who are not there know they will get their chance.”
Zimmerle said he was pleased with trial form and the defensive attitude shown by his players.
Seagulls forced nine turnovers from tackling against Souths Logan Magpies in their final hit-out on February 18.
"To have a group of blokes willing to put their bodies on the line (is) exciting,” Zimmerle said.
"You can coach the rest but that willingness to get in front of someone, that comes from the type of people we have here.”
The day starts with an under-18s clash at 10.50am, followed by under-20s at 12.25pm and Intrust Super Cup at 2pm.