Tyrone Roberts will move back into the starting team as the Norths Devils keep the same squad but make positional changes for Sunday’s preliminary final against Burleigh Bears at Suncorp Stadium.
Roberts will start at halfback in a shuffle that will move skipper Jack Ahearn to fullback and Matthew Milson to the bench.
Danny Levi will again start at hooker in a forward pack that is unchanged from the team that defeated Tweed Seagulls 22-16 in an entertaining qualifying final at Bishop Park nine days ago.
Roberts, Ahearn and Milson were heavily involved in the tries that moved the Devils into the final four.
Roberts’ rolling, bending kick in the 75th minute found a flying Milson, who put boot to ball in a movement that led to a classic Devils’ matchwinner in the corner by winger Jon Reuben.
The preliminary final will be played before the NRL grand final and the expected huge crowd at Suncorp Stadium won’t faze Roberts, whose long career has included appearances in Challenge Cup and Super League grand finals and an NRL preliminary final.
The Devils will monitor the fitness of some players with minor injury niggles who benefited from a rest last weekend as Burleigh defeated Souths Logan for the right to play the Devils.
Coach Rohan Smith gave his team a strong hitout in the heat at Bishop Park last Saturday as they prepared for a forecast temperature of 29 degrees for the 2.45pm kick off at Suncorp Stadium.
The Devils have relished hot, fast conditions all season as they built a 15-2 win-loss record that handed them the minor premiership, three wins clear of their rivals.
That fitness helped Norths as a valiant Tweed threatened a finals upset at Bishop Park before two tries in the final 15 minutes sealed victory for the home team.
Sunday’s clash will be the Devils’ first preliminary final since 2010, when they toppled Mackay Cutters 56-12 at Bishop Park.
The Devils’ last finals appearance at Suncorp Stadium came a week later with a narrow grand final loss to Northern Pride.
1. Jack Ahearn (capt).
2. Nene Macdonald.
3. Jacob Gagan.
4. Bernard Gregorius.
5 Jon Reuben.
6. Connor Broadhurst.
7. Tyrone Roberts.
8. Michael Molo.
9. Danny Levi.
10. Piki Rogers.
11. Moses Noovao-McGreal.
12. Leivaha Pulu.
13. Michael Sio.
14. Matthew Milson.
15. Jerome Veve.
16. Ben Nakubuwai.
17. Brendan Piakura.
18. Jack Miers.