ALBURY Thunder will be a shock starter in the Rugby Tens curtain-raiser to the Melbourne Rebels and NSW Waratahs trial match at Albury Sportsground next month.
Thunder coach Josh Cale yesterday said the Group 9 premier had accepted an invitation from the Albury-Wodonga Steamers to play in the six-team competition.
Griffith, Box Hill, Ag College and CSU have also entered.
Each team will play three matches from 1.50pm with the top teams from both pools playing off in the final.
Cale said the tournament would be a good lead-in to the club’s first trial match at West Wyalong next month.
“A few of the boys have played rugby. It’s a good chance to have a run around and mix up training a bit,” Cale said.
“We’re not competing to win or anything like that.
“It will be good fun and another way to get some run into our legs.”
Cale remains on the look-out for a half-back with premiership player Mitch McLeod to miss the season.
McLeod will travel overseas. His obvious replacement, Josh Murray, has confirmed he will sit out another season due to injury problems.
“We are keeping our options open,” Cale said.
“Someone might come along or we could reshuffle our side a little.”
Thunder returned to training in searing conditions on Tuesday and will step up its training with several clubs expected to challenge for its title.
Young shapes as a major threat after keeping its list together and adding Cootamundra star Aaron Byrne, while Southcity has topped up again and will be looking to put some disappointing finals campaigns behind it.
Brothers has also be active on the recruiting front with Joe Williams coming out of retirement.
Gundagai and Tumut are yet to appoint their coaches.