Roorters name finch as hooker

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DUFFMAN

Bencher
Ricky's gamble

March 07, 2006

FORMER NSW and grand final halfback Brett Finch was last night pushed to hooker in a controversial move by Sydney Roosters coach Ricky Stuart.

Finch, the Roosters' halfback since 2003, has been named in the forwards for Sunday's first-round clash with great rivals South Sydney at Telstra Stadium.

Stuart pulled the first major surprise of the season by opting for rookie Jamie Soward at halfback on the strength of pre-season form.

Finch was preferred at hooker ahead of Craig Wing, who will come off the interchange bench against the Rabbitohs.

But Finch last night embraced his positional switch.



"It's an exciting new challenge for me," Finch said. "I'm happy to be there somewhere."

The game will also be Craig Fitzgibbon's first NRL match as new Sydney Roosters captain. He will play at prop.

Fitzgibbon said he was sure Finch would adapt to his new role.

"We have strength and speed all over the paddock," Fitzgibbon said.

The Roosters named their opening round side at a season cocktail launch at Easts Leagues Club.

New buys Braith Anasta and Ashley Harrison were named in the Roosters' run-on side.

Soward has for two years now been groomed as a future Roosters halfback.

But last night's announcement that he had bumped Finch still came as a surprise.

The Roosters will field a powerful forward pack around Finch.

Aside from Fitzgibbon and Harrsion, Anthony Tupou, Chris Flannery and Adrian Morley make up the Roosters' pack.

The Roosters' backline also has class and speed, despite the painful loss of Joel Monaghan for the season with a knee injury.

Sam Perrett won a place on the wing, with Amos Roberts the other winger.

Souths coach Shaun McRae will name his team today.

Forward Mark Minichiello will be unavailable until round four or five with a shoulder injury.

Recruit Joe Galuvao, who signed from Penrith, has a shoulder injury but is expected to play. Peter Cusack will lead the Rabbitohs.

As the Roosters were springing their surprise, the Storm also threw up a contentious selection when they named fiery David Kidwell as captain for Sunday's match against New Zealand in Auckland.

The decision comes despite Kidwell having a discipline problem in the past. Storm coach Craig Bellamy rejected suggestions this would be a "rebuilding season" for Storm.

"I wouldn't call it a year of rebuilding - we're a bit ahead of where I thought we'd be," Bellamy said.

"We think that's a bit of a copout -- anyone who's having a rebuilding year probably isn't expecting to go too well.

"We've had a good pre-season. For the players we have lost we have got good players in those positions, and we'll be very competitive."

The Storm yesterday upgraded its sponsorship deal with health fund Medibank Private and signed a new major sponsor in superannuation firm HostPlus.
 
Team P W L PD Pts
11 9 2 82 20
11 8 3 112 18
11 8 3 75 18
10 7 3 69 16
12 7 5 135 14
11 7 4 59 14
11 6 5 -9 14
11 6 5 -38 14
12 6 5 36 13
11 5 6 47 12
12 6 6 2 12
11 5 6 -88 12
11 4 6 -7 9
11 3 8 -119 8
10 2 8 -91 6
11 2 9 -95 6
11 2 9 -170 6
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