BOB THE CAPTAIN: The 2009 Cougars captain Roy Bob still plans to be the most talkative player on the park this Hyundai QSL season.
BOB THE CAPTAIN: The 2009 Cougars captain Roy Bob still plans to be the most talkative player on the park this Hyundai QSL season.

Having a Bob each way

The new season has Roy Bob as new captain of the Minniecon & Burke Capricorn Cougars but otherwise there are few changes from last season.

Captaincy certainly won't change how Bob approaches his game.

“It'll be no different; I'll still be talking the house down,” he joked.

There is little doubt that Bob is one of the most experienced players in Central Queensland and it is that footballing wisdom that the younger players in the squad will hopefully feed from.

Apart from being the new captain of the Cougars, Bob will be looking to start up a new partnership in the team's engine room.

“Clayton (Rowland) is a big loss,” he admitted.

However, Bob is excited about the replacements as now there is genuine competition for starting spots in the 2009 Cougars.

“BJ (Brendan James) and I work well, while Liam (Williams) is a bonus,” he said.

It is Williams who has received the nod for tonight's match with the Far North Queensland Bulls at Mareeba.

Bob's own position in the starting line-up for the season opener was only confirmed late in the week as he has been on the injured list with bruised ribs after coming out second-best against Whitsunday Miners powerful midfielder Troy Mundy in a trial match.

“It's been good (this week),” Bob confirmed.

“I got through a full training session earlier this week.

“I'm ready to go but it's the coaches who make the decision (whether he plays).”

The Cougars captain is confident his team can do well and believes they will be a stronger unit going forward this year.

A reason for his optimism is the pre-season form of livewire striker Tristan Fraser.

“He's bloody sensational,” Bob declared.

“I just hope he can stay injury-free.”

He said Fraser is carving everyone up at Cougars training sessions and predicts that a few Brisbane teams will also regret he's still playing his football in the Hyundai QSL.

Bob is also excited at getting two other good ball players, Tim Hickey and Joe Burke, back in the team after injury.

Although looking forward to playing the Bulls, Bob admits the Strikers at Jardine Park will be a massive game.

“I think they'll be looking forward to coming up here,” he joked, referring to the Cougars' win last season in Brisbane.

Bob's return to fitness is a bonus for the Cougars coaching staff, who earlier in the week were looking at making the journey without him and the two British lads.

Fortunately the international clearance for Tom Evans and Williams arrived yesterday, allowing them to play.

There are a couple of surprises in the line-up announced yesterday.

Ben McMaster has done enough in a defensive role to convince the coaching staff that he is the man to do a job for the team today.

The Cougars are expecting a physical challenge and McMaster did enough in trial matches, especially against Mackay, to win his place, assistant coach Brad Smith said.

Alex Trovato is the unlucky player, as he will not travel.

“We are limited with just three on the bench and Johnathon Sauer gave us more options,” Smith said.

Trovato is still a big part of the Cougars squad, and Smith admits they have sacrificed pace for physical power by making the change.

Joe Burke has also done enough in training to earn his selection.

The team

Cougars: Gerard Kelly, Tim Hickey, Craig Porter, Ben McMaster, Dylan Kussrow, Michael Cay, Liam Williams, Roy Bob (c), Tom Evans, Tristan Fraser, Joe Burke. Reserves: Brendan James, Johnathon Sauer, Jesse Thompson. Coach: Justin Kilshaw.