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Saturday, 30 August 2014

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Smith in doubt as Haven face Salford

WHITEHAVEN will adopt a safety-first policy over injured hooker Chris Smith which is likely to put him out of contention for Sunday’s Carnegie Challenge Cup fourth round visit of Super League Salford City Reds (3pm).

Smith, who has missed just one match this term, had to watch the second-half of the heavy Good Friday defeat to Workington Town from the sidelines after taking a big hit to the jaw.

And while early fears that he had suffered a fracture were unfounded, coach Don Gailer is not prepared to take any chances with his talented No 9.

“It was a pretty bad head knock, and it’s more than likely we won’t use him this week,” said Gailer. “He’ll get a week’s holiday and we’ll make sure he’s fully recovered for the start of the competition, again.”

Smith’s absence should hand a third appearance of the season to Sam Gee, while Carl Sice will come back in to the reckoning after missing the derby.

Gailer believes Gee, the ex-London Skolars hooker, has plenty of ability but warned he pushed too hard in his early appearances this term.

“At the start of the year, Sam looked like he could be fantastic, but he had a couple of mistakes in him and over-tried,” the coach said.

“It’s probably time we get him out there and see if he corrects it. We’ve had a talk about it and it’s not a skill deficiency.

“He has enough footy in him to be real effective for us. Sicey is also going all right and comes back in to contention.”

Sice was left out of the derby game as Gailer opted for a big bench including three props and new recruit Jessie Joe Parker in a bid to combat Town’s formidable pack.

But the match statistics did not make pretty reading for the hosts, who deviated sharply from their game plan.

Gailer added: “We gave away 15 penalties and missed 37 tackles, 22 in the first-half. I want to see our discipline right and we have to be tidier in defence, hitting and sticking.

“They have to follow what I tell them to do and play with a lot of energy.”

Papua New Guinea stand-off Glen Nami looks unlikely to join Haven as the club has been unable to contact him for three weeks.

“We haven’t closed the door on him, but it’s obviously doubtful that he will come, and we are exploring other avenues,” said chief executive Barry Richardson.

“It’s important we bring in another half-back, and we’re also trying to bring in a prop forward.

“We have a lot of faith in the players at the club, and they are going to get better.

“In my opinion, they are just lacking an organiser at the moment, and I’m sure if we can get one he will bring more confidence to the side and the players.

“We are good enough to win games in this league and push up towards the top of the table, and we have every confidence that between Don and the players, we’ll get it right.

“We should not underestimate what Don has come in to. We have played nine games and he’s a new coach who didn’t know any of the players, so it was always going to take time for things to settle down.

“We are all in this together, and we can move forward and hopefully be successful.”

Ticket prices for Sunday, arrived at in agreement with Salford, are £15 for adults, £8 concessions and £5 for youngsters.

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