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Newcastle rugby: Sherratt hopes to fly behind Hamilton pack

EXCITED: Fly-half Dane Sherratt is looking forward to playing behind a dominant Hamilton pack. Picture: Jonathan CarrollDANE Sherratt was always jealous ofthe front-foot ball the Hamilton fly-half had to work with when he played for the Waratahs against the Hawks.

It was a big part of the reason the South African-born No.10 headed to Passmore Oval when the Waratahs drop to first division this season.

Sherratt will make his debut for the Hawks against Merewether-Carlton at Townson Oval on Saturday.

“I was coming back [from South Africa] with every intention to play for the Waratahs but circumstances changed,” he said. “One of the biggest reasons for going to Hamilton was to play behind a pack that goes forward. I have been asked to run the footy and back myself, and hopefully I get an opportunity to do that.”

Hamilton, who had the bye in round one, are chasing a fourth straight premiership.They will field a far different XV against the Greens than theone which thrashed Wanderers 45-12 in the 2017 decider.

Joe Akkersdyk, Paddy Kilmurray, Sireli Bainivalu and Sam McNeilare the only starters from the grand final and they have a new coach, David Clarke.

Sherratt was a teammate of Bainivalu at NSW Country last year and played alongside a number of Hawks in the Newcastle representative side.

“I knew a few of the players through the rep campaign and it was quite an easy decision when it all came about,” Sherratt said. “The first few trainingsessions I just tried to settle in. As the weeks have progressed, I have felt more comfortable. I’m a bit of a loud mouth and thatcomes out. The coach wants me to be my own player. Getting the backing from the senior players there helps as well.”

Merewether ground out a 15-13 win over Wanderers in the season opener, but will be without skipper Jay Strachan and winger Eddie Clifton. On the plus side, Jarome Wilson returns at blindside breakaway.

“We learnt a lot from the first round,” co-coach Mick Gill said. “With Strachan away we need our halves,Eli McCulloch and Tom Smith, to take more ownership.”

Merewether played Hamilton in a pre-season trial and Gill does not expect the Hawks to deviate greatly from the game which has been so successful, despite Clarke taking the reins from Scott Coleman.

“From the outside looking in, I doubt he will come in and change the world after winning three straight grand finals,” Gill said. “I’m sure the new coach will put his own touch on it. Sherratt adds a new dimension with his kicking game …we will see tomorrow.”

Elsewhere, Southern Beaches will be without Adrian Delore for the trip to Singleton to take on the impressive first-round winners.

Sione Olive switches from fly-half to fullback to cover for Delore. Former NSW Country rep Rob Richardson (fly half) and Frank Roberts (breakaway) make their first-grade debut for Beaches.

Maitland back-rower James Johnston will be out to mark his 100thfirst grade game with a win over Wanderers at Marcellin Park.

Inthe final game, Nelson Bay host Lake Macquarie.

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