TALENTED young rugby prospect Nick Finney is hoping an ankle injury incurred at training just a fortnight after he was named captain for the Central North under 16s, will have recovered in time for the NSW County Junior Rugby Championships in Moree next month.
He suffered the injury early into a routine training session at the second trial match for Central North, at Barraba. He had been appointed captain at the first trials, in order to give some leadership at the second. As a result he will miss the trial matches against Mid-North Coast at Walcha on March 17, and Central Coast at Scone, in April.
He is one of 23 players selected in his age group from 12 rugby clubs across northern NSW, who have the opportunity to test their rugby abilities against the best junior country players in the state. The championships are also a pathway for boys seeking selection in NSW Country and state teams.
Finney, who hails from Narrabri and is a student at The Armidale School (TAS), earned selection for NSW Country in 2011 and 2012. Last year he had the opportunity to captain a NSW Country Under 15s development team tour to Fiji, which was a great rugby and cultural experience. He is also in his second year of the ARU Junior Gold Program run in conjunction with the Northern Inland Academy of Sports (NIAS) and based at TAS.
The Junior Gold Program is designed to enhance the skill, physical and off-field education abilities of players and prepare them for high performance at club, school and representation at regional, state and national level. Around 30 local junior players are selected to participate in the program each year.
The highly valued fullback, who has played for Central North since the under 12s, may be on crutches but he is also getting his head around playing at number 7 instead.
“I’d never played breakaway before, but I’ve been coached by Rob Stinson since the 12s, and he moved me from hooker to fullback in the 13s. So I have every faith that if he wants me there (as breakaway), it is for a good reason,” Finney said.
Finney missed duties with NIAS at the Challenge Games matches in Toowoomba on the weekend in Darling Downs. However he is confident he will be fully fit in time for his TAS rugby season against fellow GPS schools later in the winter, and the Country Schoolboys pathway that also provides opportunities for representative honours.