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Round 11 Preview

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Kevin Braysher   With a broken arm now fully healed, the return of Pat Politoni is a welcome sight for fans of the Essential Coffee Burleigh Bears.   The 2016 Intrust Super Cup premiership winning hooker missed the first nine rounds of the year after suffering a broken arm during the pre-season.   Despite some bumps and bruises, Politoni said he was happy to just be back on the field playing 80 minutes in a Bears jersey again during their round ten clash with Sunshine Coast.   “I felt pretty sore for the next couple of days after the game,” he said.   “The body just wasn’t used to the contact after being out for the last three months but it was good to get out there.   “I was fairly happy with my game. I was just trying to keep everything real simple after being out of the game for so long. I just wanted to work on the little things. Getting the passing right, getting my defence right.”   Having played NRL for the Wests Tigers and Cronulla Sharks and being a Tongan test representative, Politoni brings with him a wealth of experience and on-field direction that will be invaluable for the Bears as they look to get back in the hunt for finals.   The next month will be crucial for the Bears, as they take on Wynnum, Mackay, Souths-Logan and Central Queensland before a round 15 bye.   All four of those sides currently sit outside the top six and a big month could turn the season around for the defending champions.   A key factor in turning around recent fortunes will be how well Politoni combines with his young playmaking partners.   Keanu Te Kiri and Dan Schwass are both steadily finding their way in the top grade, but the return of Burleigh’s “bad cop” could be the key to getting the best out of the young guns.   “Jimmy (Lenihan – coach) has given me that same kind of role that I had last year in trying to steer the middle around and be that so called ‘bad cop’ on the field barking orders and holding a high standard in the team,” he said.   “I’ll do the same thing no matter what team is on the field. It’s going to be a work in progress. We’ve got some good young guys at the moment and Queensland Cup is filled with some real quality opposition.   “It’s about getting down to training and working on our combinations and just showing them a few things that I’ve experienced and learned in my time in NRL systems and just trying to share that knowledge with them so that hopefully they can use that in their game for the years to come.”   This Sunday the Bears will line up against the Wynnum Manly Seagulls at Pizzey Park in what shapes as a crucial encounter for both teams.   Wynnum-Manly sit in ninth spot with three wins, six losses and a bye so far this year. The Bears meanwhile sit in 13th with two wins and will be desperate to grab a win here to help gather some momentum.   “They’ve had an up and down season and so have we and I think this game, especially for us, is a very important one if we want to push and get back into contention for the finals,” Politoni said.   “I think we’ve just got to focus on ourselves at the moments and not look too much at our opposition.   “Jimmy is going to have those key points to watch out for and to work on, but we just need to work on our combinations and work on ourselves and try to make ourselves better; that’s the way we’ll win, I think.”   The game will also be significant as the annual Adam Watene (Cook) Memorial Trophy will be contested.   Adam was a former Burleigh Bears player of 83 games and a member of the 2004 premiership winning team who also played 22 games for the Seagulls before to the UK. He sadly passed away suddenly in 2008 at the age of 31, leaving behind his wife Moana and two children Arana and Ena.   Every year the Bears and Seagulls contest the trophy in his memory. The Bears currently hold the trophy thanks to a 32-10 win last year.