by Mitchell Craig
CASINO second-rower Tim Ring is one of several walking wounded players at the Cougars in Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League.
Ring, 31, is new to the club this season and has seen plenty of teammates around him go down with long-term injuries.
There have been serious ones with lock Damien Benn needing surgery for a bulging disc in his back earlier in the season while front-rower Simon Pederson had his jaw broken last month.
However, there is some light at the end of the tunnel with centre Todd Johnson and lock James Rock back this week while centre Brent Scott-Hall and second-rower Hayden Pratt expected next week.
Casino will host Tweed Coast tomorrow and a win would see them host the elimination semi- final against the Raiders or the Murwillumbah Mustangs at Queen Elizabeth Park next weekend.
"I've personally never had so many injuries or seen so many around me,” Ring said.
"We started the season really well but we've just been cruelled by injuries at the back end of the year.
"We have one of the smaller packs in the competition with 80kg blokes going up against guys who are 110kg and that has probably taken a toll.
"But we have plenty of mongrel and none of the boys have taken a backward step.
"I missed the Tweed game and they're a pretty big pack but the boys got the job done last time and there is no reason why we can't do it again.”
Ring plays well above his weight at 83kg and has been a tackling machine at the Cougars alongside hooker Chad Taylor.
He moved to Casino this year and has been a handy addition after winning a Group 20 grand final as captain-coach at Tullibigeal-Lakes United in the NSW Central West last year.
He said the club has a similar feel to where he comes from and he has enjoyed the lifestyle change.
"I'm at the back end of my career now but they couldn't have made me more welcome,” Ring said.
"We can definitely mix it with any team in the competition and it's a pretty tight playing group.
"A home semi-final is a major thing for the club and something everyone is excited about.”
Kick-off is 2.45pm.
In other games:
Minor premiers Ballina host the Kyogle Turkeys in the inaugural Battle of the Birds at Kingsford Smith Park, Ballina today. It is a full club day of junior games with first grade kick-off expected to be about 5pm.
Marist Brothers need to beat Murwillumbah at Stan Sercombe Oval, Murwillumbah, to seal second spot.
Mullumbimby will look to finish their season on a high when they host Evans Head at Les Donnelly Field.
Lower Clarence take on Cudgen at the Yamba Sports Complex.