FOLLOWING a full pre-season of training and camps, the Northern Inland Junior Gold rugby squads are about to lace up their boots for their first game of the Junior Gold Cup.
The Northern Inland U15 and U17 sides travel to Sydney to take on Sydney South West on Sunday week in the first round of the brand new nationwide program.
The two 23-player squads were named on Wednesday night after a final overnight camp at TAS in Armidale last weekend where some finishing touches and combinations were put together.
The 17s will have one more session at Farrer this Sunday that will include a game against the Tamworth Magpies U18s.
That game will be played at No 2 Oval at Farrer, kicking off at 1pm.
The younger squad will not train due to Central North trials being held on the same day.
Coordinator Jamie Moore said this first game play phase would be an exciting time for the boys in the program.
“The biggest thing is giving boys from this region the opportunity to play on a national stage,” Moore said.
“It will give the boys a better idea about where the boys need their game to be if they want to make state squads.”
“It also gives the boys some good hit-outs and game time before the regular season starts.”
The months before the New Year break were spent focused on individual skills as per the new national curriculum.
The curriculum means that squads all over the country are doing the same skills at the same time.
“It is a level playing field right through the competition,” Moore said.
Since the break and, especially at the two-day camp, the squads have been putting those skills together as a unit in preparation for the match phase of the program.
The Cup will see the sides also play home games against Hunter and Sydney North West in Armidale, as well as South Australia in Tamworth.
The final round game will be away in Canberra against the ACT.
With squads made up of thirty players but only 23 named for each game, every player is promised good game time.
Those that miss out on this trip to Sydney are automatic selections to travel to Canberra in March for the final match.
The games against Sydney South West will take place at Foreshaw Park, Sylvania Waters on Sunday February 16.
Under 15s will kick off at 10.30am, with the 17s following at midday.