NO GOOD: Brothers star Chris Ash will miss the Chairman's Challenge after hurting his ankle against West End Bulldogs at the weekend.
NO GOOD: Brothers star Chris Ash will miss the Chairman's Challenge after hurting his ankle against West End Bulldogs at the weekend. Rob Williams

Footy setback: Diggers hit with injury

INJURIES are threatening to curtail the Ipswich Diggers' Chairman's Challenge campaign before it even begins.

Diggers coach Mark Bishop confirmed incumbent half Christopher Ash has been ruled out of the carnival beginning this weekend, after injuring his ankle playing for Brothers on Saturday night.

His expected replacement Corey Kirk is also in doubt, having dislocated his finger during Goodna's win over Eastern Cobras.

Livewire fullback Javarn White is waiting to hear from doctors if he will be okay to play, after leaving the field early with a head knock in Swifts' loss to Fassifern.

"Ashy is definitely out. We're waiting on Corey and Javarn to get back to us," Bishop said.

"Corey is pending, whether he says he's good or no good. Javarn is in the hands of the doctor as to whether or not he's allowed to play."

Bishop admitted it was frustrating to encounter key injuries on the eve of the carnival against Gold Coast and Brisbane, but said he was confident the squad boasted enough depth to cover.

"It's a bit of a loss just for the way we wanted to play," Bishop said of Ash's exit.

"But I'm confident Aaron (Adcock) and Corey (if he proves fit to play) can get the job done.

"It's more unlucky for Ashy. He's been a Queensland player and Queensland Residents captain. One of his targets was to make that Queensland side again and unfortunately he got injured at the wrong time."

Should White be forced to miss alongside Ash, Bishop said he had a ready made replacement waiting in the wings.

"Javarn will be a loss, he's a very experienced player but we've got Ono So'oialo," the coach said.

"He played Queensland Residents the last two years, he can slot straight back in there.

"We've got three or four options for wing and centre.

"We've got guys who can play edge, whether it's 12 or 3, it doesn't matter."

Bishop said a key focus of the initial squad selection was finding players with utility to play more than one position, to best mitigate any injury issues such as this.

"It was something we looked at when we picked the bulk of the squad, making sure we didn't pick one-dimensional players," he said.

"Blokes have a favourite position yes, but can they also play here, or here.

"I think we've got about four goal-kickers. We have plenty of options all around the park.

"It also gives the boys an extra chance to display their skills. An opportunity to show selectors what they can do and put their case forward again."

In a boost for the Diggers, forward Isimeeli Hafoka overcame an apparent six-week lower back injury to play for Swifts at the weekend. He appears fit to retain his spot.

Bishop said the playing squad of 18 would be finalised before Friday, once he receives confirmation of Kirk and White's injuries.

The Diggers open their Chairman's Challenge campaign to Gold Coast on Saturday at 4pm.

They finish against Brisbane on Sunday at 1.30pm.

All matches will be played at Brandon Park Reserve, Acacia Ridge.



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