Can debutante's 'dancing feet' deceive Devils?
AUGUSTUS Rangihuna may be a stranger to Intrust Super Cup football, but not the Norths Devils.
The Whitsunday Brahmans utility will make his Queensland Cup debut on Saturday against former club Norths in what he labelled an "ironic” twist of fate.
"It's been a long time coming . . . it will be good to play against my old club,” Rangihuna said.
"They're all pretty much still my mates. I've kept it on the low. We'll wait until we get out there and they'll probably get a bit of a fright when they see me.”
Cutters coach Steve Sheppard confirmed Rangihuna would make his first start for the Cutters having trained with the team all season.
The former Melbourne Storm Under-20s player comes in for the injured Marcus Jensen and will start in the centres.
If the Cutters are to keep their slim finals hopes alive, a win over the Devils is a must.
In Rangihuna, Sheppard believes the Cutters have a "special talent” who can do some damage.
The club has already offered him a full time contract for next season.
"Gus has been playing some tremendous football for Whitsunday. He's a really good attacking player; has great feet and can turn nothing into something,” Sheppard said.
"With his footwork he can make defenders really nervous. We just have to make sure he gets the defensive system down pat.
"We're really excited for Gus and it's against his old club so I'm sure he'll put a good effort in.
"He doesn't have to be the best player out there, he just has to do the right job for the team.”
Rangihuna was a key cog in the Brahmans' run to the Rugby League Mackay minor premiership this season.
The stars aligned for him to make his Queensland Cup debut this weekend, with the Brahmans on a week one finals bye.
The utility thanked Whitsunday coach Tye Ingebrigtsen for readying him for Queensland Cup football.
"I take my hat off to him. He's helped me get here,” Rangihuna said.
"He's helped me improve as a player. He was all for it to let me come here.”
Sheppard doubled down on the thanks.
"Tye's helped us out a little bit there . . . the last few weeks he's put (Rangihuna) in the centres to give him some time there,” Sheppard said.
The Cutters put in a stellar defensive effort against competition leaders Sunshine Coast last weekend, but remained a blunt spear in attack.
Against a Norths outfit which put 62 points on Northern Pride last time out, and 42 on the Cutters when they last met, Rangihuna's dancing feet may be called upon to break the line against his former club.
"Hopefully they got it all out of their system,” Sheppard joked of the Devils' point-scoring potency.
"They're probably one of the most fluent sides in attack along with Sunny Coast. They pass well through their middle forwards, they've got plenty of strike on their edges and their halves are quality.
"We were off the pace when we played them last time - that was the worst performance, worst attitude all year. We've been in every game except that one.
"We've got a point to prove.”
Sheppard said ball control and physicality in defence would be key if the Cutters are to upset the fifth-ranked Devils.
"They play a lot of footy so they can turn a bit of the ball over,” he said.
"If we complete well it will go a long way to winning the game.”
In other team changes, Alex Gerrard is still "two to three weeks” away with a calf injury and will be replaced by Jack Brock in the starting side.
Reuben Cotter's Cowboys call-up means Cooper Bambling will start at hooker with Tyler Gardiner moving onto the bench.
Sheppard called on the Mackay community to get out and support "a great day of football” in the Cutters' final home game of the season.
Intrust Super Cup Round 21
Saturday (6pm) - Mackay Cutters v Norths Devils at BB Print Stadium Mackay