MAKESHIFT Queanbeyan Blues hooker Ben Nicoll will play through the pain this weekend in an attempt to help lift the battling side to a shock semi-final victory over the Yass Magpies.
Having already missed several games in recent weeks with a dislocated toe, Nicoll will receive pain killing injections in the lead-up to tomorrow’s clash in order to take the field.
Already without skipper and regular number 9 Jordan Hammond, the Blues can ill-afford to be without Nicoll who has shifted into the hooking role to cover Hammond’s absence.
The 26-year-old returned from injury last weekend to help the Blues grind out a crucial final-round victory over the struggling West Belconnen Warriors in a result that kept the club’s flickering title hopes alive.
And despite being far from 100 per cent fit, Nicoll said he was determined to play his part in leading the east Queanbeyan club past the Magpies on Saturday.
“The toe is pretty ordinary at the moment so hopefully this weekend they’ll needle it and I might be able to play a bit more freely,” he said. “It didn’t feel too bad last weekend but I’d just be more comfortable out there with some pain killers I think.”
While Nicoll is generally more accustomed to a role in the halves, the playmaker proved more than capable of filling in at rake against the Warriors with centre Dennis Gordon moving into the five-eighth role.
The Blues have limped into this year’s finals on the back of a middling 8-8 regular season record. The last time the Blues met Yass three weeks ago saw the Magpies walk away with a 24-12 victory at Seiffert Oval.
But Nicoll said there was no secret behind turning the side’s lacklustre run of form around and making a surprise finals run.
“We’ve only been playing 30 or 40 minutes of decent footy during games this year, the rest of the time we’ve just been making stupid mistakes and giving the ball away,” he said. “If we can cut those out, we can match it with anyone.
“Really with our forward pack, we should be able to go over teams. If we can bash through Yass up the middle, I think we’ll run over the top of them.
“As long as we play smart off the back of that, we’ll be able to go around them out wide, that’s all we need to do. If we lose, we’ll lose it ourselves.”
Backrower Mick Cullen will front up for the Blues after missing the side’s round 16 loss to the Magpies through suspension. The club is also hopeful prop Jay Lasscock will be fit to play after injuring his shoulder last weekend against the Warriors.