Forwards pick up academy awards

JAY Gallagher and Tyler Austin were deserved winners of the Wests Greater Northern Academy awards that were dished out after Saturday’s domination of three other CRL academies at Farrer.

The GNA’s two squads both won all three of their games to give the academy an unbeaten day and a great finish to the summer program.

Older squad coach Chris Brennan said it felt good to beat the academies from the Northern Rivers, North Coast and Western regions.

“It does, but we also played some really good footy at times too, especially the younger squad,” he said.

And that was more important than winning, but win they did.

The younger squad was dominant in all three games.

Its smallest winning margin in the 50-minute games was 14 points.

“I can’t praise my big blokes enough,” younger squad coach Peter Stevens said.

“Our little hookers were great.

“The halves, Corey Manicaros, Mitch Doring and Bevn Wood were good.

“The way Bevan played his footy showed what he has picked up through the 

academy.

“And Corey might be 12 months younger than the rest but he grew into that pivot role.”

But Austin was the one chosen for the squad award.

It was judged on all aspects of the summer program and the big prop from Group 21 was selected as the standout.

“Tyler Austin got the award,” Stevens said.

“But Zander Smith was outstanding too.

“It came down to those two.

“Tyler deserved it.

“He’s worked really hard.”

In the older squad, Gallagher vindicated his selection as the pick of the bunch.

The Glen Innes lock was a shining light in all three games on Saturday, with several tries and countless other contributions to a good team performance.

“Gal was obviously outstanding,” Brennan said.

“Lochie Collins improved over the program.

“I was happy with both of our hookers actually – Tyler Fleming and Lochie.

“Jake Cocking and Josh Pursche were strong up front as well.” 

The GNA players will go back to their Group 4, 19 and 21 clubs and prepare for the 2013 season, but many will come back together for the Greater Northern Tigers U18s.

After the success of the academy program the Tigers should be a force in the Country Championships in May.

That team will be selected after trials on May 6.

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