RUGBY LEAGUE: The Sunshine Coast Falcons will be without seven regular starters for tonight's match against Redcliffe in what is set to be an emotional clash for the inaugural James Ackerman Cup at Sunshine Coast Stadium.
The Coast side has been hit hard by injuries and the unavailability of some Melbourne Storm players.
Prop Tom Geraghty (endosmosis), Martin Cordwell (achillis), Matt Grieve (groin) and Callum Klein (groin), join captain Troy Giess (hand) and Tom Murphy (shoulder) on the sidelines for extended periods.
Melbourne's Nelson Asofa-Solomona will not make the trip north after the Storm was hit with its own injury crisis.
He has been named alongside dynamite Falcons interchange player Ben Hampton for the Storm side to face Newcastle tonight.
The losses could not have come at a worse time for the Falcons who have made a sterling start to their Intrust Super Cup season after winning three of the their first four matches including victories over heavyweight's Burleigh and Papua New Guinea.
"We have got some rhythm at the moment and we will be up against it now for a period of time," Falcons coach Craig Ingebrigtsen said.
"But we will eventually get the boys back and be in the hunt again.
"I rate Redcliffe as one of the best two sides in the competition."
The Dolphins are one of the richest state league clubs in Queensland and boast a player budget in excess of $1 million, dwarfing the Coast's financial resources.
"On paper and with the money they have it is David versus Goliath," Ingebrigtsen said.
But Ingebrigtsen refused to make excuses.
"It is just a matter of finding a way to compete with these guys and get in to a dog fight," Ingebrigtsen said.
"It will be an emotional day and we will be up against it, but I don't like running second."
The injuries open the door for Sunshine Coast locals Logan Houghton, Rohan Messer and Sam Wright.
"They all deserve their opportunity," Ingebrigtsen said.
"At the end of the day we will be doing our best and we hope the outcome is a positive one for the Falcons."
The James Ackerman Cup honours Ackerman who died from injuries sustained during a tackle in a game against Norths on June 20 last year.
Ackerman also formerly played for Redcliffe.
Article by Anthony Brand of Sunshine Coast Daily
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