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Newcastle Herald
Newcastle Herald
Josh Callinan

Newcastle RL: Injury setback as Pickers sail into state final

Maitland winger Will Nieuwenhuise during last weekend's Newcastle Rugby League grand final. Picture by Peter Lorimer.

Maitland winger Will Nieuwenhuise will be racing the fitness clock to play this weekend's President's Cup decider against Hills Bulls in Sydney after missing a 46-point win out west.

The Pickers wide man was sidelined for the 52-6 victory over Forbes Magpies in Parkes on Saturday having picked up a glute strain from their recent Newcastle Rugby League premiership.

Maitland coach Matt Lantry says Nieuwenhuise will be given up until game eve to take the field in Sunday's state final at CommBank Stadium.

"He's probably racing the clock. We gave him a fitness test yesterday morning and advice on Friday was a minor glute strain," Lantry told the Newcastle Herald on Sunday.

"We'll give him every chance. If he can get through training on Thursday and Saturday then he'll play, but not playing [against Forbes] has definitely done him some favour."

It won't be the Pickers' first look at upcoming opponents Hills, having faced off twice during a COVID version of the President's Cup two years ago.

"They have a very similar team to the one we played back in 2020," Lantry said.

"We beat Hills twice, once down there a bit understrength and once up here. It was 16-14 in the semi in what was probably one of the best games of local footy I'd seen in a long time. It was physical, it was fast, it was good quality. Hopefully we get something similar again."

Maitland made light work of Western Premiership winners Forbes, crossing for nine tries across 80 minutes and conceding only once during the second half. It was 28-0 at the main break.

Hills beat Illawarra champions and hosts Collegians 26-16 in Saturday's other semi, forming NSW Rugby League's new end-of-season conference competition.

The Pickers and Bulls are now scheduled for Sunday at 11am, kicking off before the Jersey Flegg and NSW Cup title showdowns.

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