WITH Junee readying for a ferocious test of their Group Nine premiership mettle, star playmaker Matt Hands is poised to make a timely return from a serious injury.
Seven months after suffering a torn pectoral muscle, Hands is now aiming to play against Kangaroos at Laurie Daley Oval on Sunday.
In a huge boost for the Diesels, Hands has revealed he intends to “have a run” in reserve grade and almost certainly sit on the bench for first grade at the weekend.
“All going well at training (Thursday), that’s the plan” Hands said.
“I’ll just have to wait and see (on Sunday).”
The prospect of Hands bursting back to football is definitely opportune for a team facing a daunting trial over the next three weeks.
After contending with winless and desperate Kangaroos on Sunday, Junee has to battle the two best teams in the premiership – Southcity and Gundagai.
Despite the dangers lurking just around the corner, Hands is not getting sidetracked from the more immediate problem of wrestling with Kangaroos.
Currently sitting on the bottom of the Group Nine table, Roos have lost their only two games and can ill afford to wind up 0-3 on Sunday.
Ever astute, Hands knows the score better than anyone else.
“Benny (Jeffery) will want to get them back on track,” Hands said.
“He’ll have them (Kangaroos) raring to go.”
Fresh from a crushing 34-3 loss to Young at Alfred Oval two weeks back, Junee also needs to rebound in the most imposing way.
Reflecting on the six tries failure against Young, Hands made it clear the absence of several “senior” players had been a setback, but not an excuse.
The Junee captain-coach also admits Junee’s 74-14 thrashing of Cootamundra in the opening round will mean little if the team falls to Roos.
“We won’t want to be 1-2 going into those games against Southcity and Gundagai,” he said.
For Hands, Junee’s early season form has left him slightly perplexed.
“It’s hard to get a read on how we’re travelling,” he said.
“Cootamundra had a lot of injuries in the first game and it was hard to take too much out of it.
“It was much the same with the game against Young.”
Complicating matters, Junee will now have two representatives in the Group Nine to play Group 20 in the Kelly Cup at Griffith on Saturday night.
Talented halfback Cameron Hands has been rushed to the Group Nine squad following the withdrawal of Southcity gun Nathan Rose.
Cameron Hands joins Junee team-mate Trent Schuback in the team and leaves Matt Hands with a nervous wait.
“We’ll just have to hope they come through Saturday’s game all right,” the skipper said.
Aside from Rose, second rower Hayden Jolliffe and prop Aaron Slater are also out of the Group Nine squad, with only Connor McCauley added at this stage.