CAILEB Gerrard put forward a strong case for a starting wing spot with a brilliant hat-trick and pint-sized fullback Chad Northcott also gave Newcastle Wildfires coach Scott Coleman plenty to think about.
Coleman has a "few selection headaches" ahead of the the Wildfires' Shute Shield season-opener away to Randwick next Saturday.
In an encouraging sign, the Wildfires over-powered fellow Sydney competition newbies Penrith 45-7 at No.2 Sportsground on Saturday.
The Wildfires dominated the set-piece, cut Penrith open on the edges and scored a host of well-crafted tries.
Defenisively, they missed a few one-on-one tackles but scrambled well.
However, they were rarely put under constant pressure by a Penrith outfit which played an ab-lib style.
The opposition in the coming weeks will be a step up in class, fitness, structure and experience.
"Our determination and willingness to have a crack was impressive," Coleman said. "The scrum was very strong. We have worked a lot on our exits and I wasn't entirely happy with them. Our defence was solid, but not brilliant. The phase play got better as the game went on but there is still lots to work on."
With Nimi Qio suspended, Hayden Coles away, Billy Coffey (groin), and Hamish McKie (elbow) injured and Adrian Delore on the comeback from a knee reconstruction, Gerrard made the most of his opportunity.
Each five-pointer highlighted a different trait. He showed pace and sharp hands to run through and take a beautifully-executed chip by Brendan Holliday.
The second was a solo burst from 50 metres, beating three defenders with cleaver footwork before completing his haul with a classic finish.
Right winger Simione Vuniwaqalevu also crossed for a try.
Northcott was arguably the star at fullback. He scored the opening try, threw the final pass for another, was a constant threat bringing the ball back and near faultless with his positioning.
Qio and Coles, who has played 52 games for Parramatta in the Shute Shield, are available for round one.
"Caileb was very good and might have played himself into a wing spot," Coleman said. "Chad Northcott was excellent and backed up his effort in the internal trial. There were a lot of young guys who stood up. Lachy Miller was outstanding at six.
"There are a lot of selection headaches. I had certain staff watching different areas. We will meet on Monday night and come up with a 23 for Randwick."
One area locked in is the front-row. Props Dave Puchert and Nick Dobson anchored a dominant scrum, which was rewarded with a pushover try.
The Wildfires were also too strong for Penrith in the lower grades, winning second grade 71-0 and colts 24-0. Newcastle will only field teams in first grade and colts in the Sydney competition.
"They have been flogged at training for the past four weeks and that was a good reward," Coleman said.
"There is a good buzz about the place and we have to keep that going for the next 12 weeks."