After a gallant effort against a St. George side that proved to strong last week, Mick Mantelli’s side received a welcome boost with a host of stars returning to the NYC side for this week’s game against Cronulla on Sunday at Remondis Stadium.

Mantelli’s side has lacked size for much of this year but not heart and with the finals now out of reach the emphasis has been placed on development for next year.

The signs look quite positive with a number of players making their NYC debuts this year, but at times the side has missed leaders with a host of older players taking the opportunity to play with the clubs feeder teams.

Two of those leaders who started the year as co-captains of the side will return this week after stellar performances in the past couple of months for Souths Logan. Patrick Mago and Luke Bateman will both look to bring what they’ve learned in reserve grade as Mantelli’s side looks to leapfrog the Cronulla Sharks on the NYC ladder.

Their first challenge will be to help snap the side’s struggling road record, it has been a bumpy journey on the road this season to say the least, but the motivation to beat a side and move ahead of them on the ladder is there for Mantelli’s side.

The two NYC stars will be joined by arguably this year’s most consistent performer Mitchell Barnett who has stood up for much of the time Mago and Barnett have been away. His most gallant performance came a few weeks ago when he backed up a day after playing reserve grade for Mounties.

Click here to the side for this week.

Mantelli described Barnett’s performance as ‘inspirational’ and you would expect nothing less from the fired up forward this week. Barnett joins Mago in the backrow and Bateman will start at lock.

Named in the NYC Academic team of the year Andrew Heffernan will miss this week’s game with a shoulder injury. It gives Jack Williams a great chance to showcase his versatility with a move to the centres for this week’s game.

Jack Creith will also be monitored after receiving a head knock in last week’s game, he returned to play in last week’s game but will be looked at just in case.

While Scott Doyle is still sidelined with injury this is arguably the strongest side that Mantelli has been able to name for quite some time and all eyes will be on flying winger Lachlan Hurst who continues his terrific season in a tie for top try scorer this season.

Key to the game:

The boys have shown with their starts in recent weeks that they can more than match it with the best teams in the competition. Starting the game well hasn’t been a problem for Mantelli’s side with the team holding a half time lead in their last two matches.

Second half fadeouts have cost the side dearly in the last month and a half and there is no doubt that the side will be trying hard to rectify these lapses. If the side is able to continue their positive starts and put in a good second half performance they will go a long way to winning this game.

Player to watch:

Patrick Mago –

I’ve said many times this year that Mago is going to be a future star of the competition. He is simply a rare commodity in today’s game he is a forward who possesses all the skills of a halfback, and a sharp fend and offload that sets up plenty of attacks.

After starring for Souths Logan the past few months Mago will certainly be one to watch.

The match this week against the Cronulla Sharks at Remondis Stadium will kick off at 11:45am on Sunday.