VERSATILE Chris Patison has been recalled to the Murwillumbah Mustangs starting line-up for tomorrow's Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League away clash with Ballina at Kingsford Smith Park (3pm).
Patison has been playing off the bench in the forwards in previous matches but an injury to centre, Michael Keating, has forced coach, Troy McLean to put him into the centres where he is no stranger.
The Englishman played most of the 2011 season in the centres where, despite a lack of real pace, he did a terrific job, especially in defence against some very slick opponents.
Keating, who has notched his fair share of tries already this season, broke a wrist midway through the first half in last week's 50-12 defeat of Northern United - the injury is likely to sideline him for between 4-6 weeks.
"Michael has been going great guns and we'll miss his attacking play but fortunately we do have someone of Chris' calibre to fill in for him while he is out of action," McLean said.
Solid fullback, Dylan Smith (cork) and Lynden Murphy (back) are still carrying nagging injuries but have assured coaching staff that they will be right to tackle Ballina.
The hosts are sure to make a match of it with the Mustangs going on recent sound form which includes a last-start 42-20 defeat of a handy Marist Brothers outfit.
But it is hard to imagine the Mustangs not singing the victory song in the sheds post-match.
No doubt the Mustangs' big, powerful and skilful pack will win the battle up front, allowing scheming halves, Nathan Jordan and Matt Goodfellow to work their magic.
One big man keen to get into the action is Lionel "Ox" Foster who came off the bench last week and was rewarded with a hat-trick of tries.
That probably matched the total number of touchdowns he had scored previously in senior footy with the Mustangs!
"Ox was in the right place at the right time and deserved his hat-trick," McLean said.
"He has been playing good footy and deserved the big cheer which went up when he crossed for his third."
Mustangs president, Nigel Lofts, reports that the depth in the forwards has been further boosted by the return to ranks of big Nathan Callister who is now back in training after being unavailable for the early stages of the season due to work commitments.
"Nathan starting playing some terrific footy towards the end of the season and always made an impact when he came on - it is wonderful to have him back," Lofts said.
"If he shows last season's form, he'll definitely be pushing for a spot in the starting line-up."
Mustangs line-up: 1 Dylan Smith 2 Caleb Howell 3 Damien Quinn 4 Chris Patison 5 Mick Forrester 6 Matt Goodfellow 7 Nathan Jordan (c) 8 Lynden Murphy 9 Sam Panting 10 Shane Kijt 11 Luke Covell 12 Tim James 13 Shawn Dorney 14 Lionel Foster 15 Brendan Stuart
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