FORSTER-Tuncurry's forward stocks have taken a battering going into Saturday's Group Three Rugby League game against Port Macquarie at Port Macquarie.
The Hawks will be without the experienced duo of prop Matt Kirkland and second rower Luke Ross, while halfback Keegan Dodd is also expected to miss the game.
This is particularly disappointing for Kirkland, who was hoping to line up against his brother, Ben, the captain-coach of the Sharks. He has been struggling with a quad injury and while there were initial hopes Kirkland would be right for this weekend, coach Phil Adamson said he has been ruled out.
Ross aggravated a hamstring injury in last week's win over Old Bar. He originally sustained the injury leading into the first game of the season
"We'll still have a strong starting 13, but I'll have to call a few boys up from reserves to sit by,'' Adamson said.
He has two vacancies on the bench, with Matthew Thomas and Sam Whitbread the reserves named.
Adamson is likely to reinstate Kye Burke to the halfback role. He started the season at seven but was relegated last week in favour of the more experienced Dodd.
"He (Burke) is still a kid and he was getting knocked around a bit,'' Adamson explained.
Adamson has retained Matt Wakefield at five-eighth after he turned in a solid effort against Old Bar.
The coach said the Hawks 'turned the corner a bit' in the win over Old Bar last week.
"The attitude was good at training on Tuesday night and we're looking forward to the game,'' he said.
The Hawks have struggled at the Port Regional Stadium in recent seasons, however, Adamson said it is crucial the side picks up wins on the road if they hope to play in the semi-finals.