NEW ENGLAND Rugby has named a young and fast side for the Country Championships this weekend in Mudgee.
The squad will not be going at full strength however, after having made a few tough decisions on the issue of the year.
James Reynolds and Mitch Maguire were both concussed in the unfortunately named Armidale Knockout and have been omitted from the squad.
NERU president Luke Stephen said it was a tough call they had to make.
“I am not going to be the guy that takes them and then in10 years finds out there was damage done,” Stephen said.
Five-eight Reynolds is going to leave a huge hole in the side and with backline combinations.
The Barbarians Sam Blatchford will step into the playmaker role.
Another missing player is Keith Ellis who, along with Angus Webb are unavailable due to work commitments.
“There is still a bit of uncertainty in the selections,” Stephen said.
“The issues with the concussions threw us a bit, but had to be done.”
Mitch Bokeyar, Dave Van Lubeck, and Sebastian Dunhill were the late call ups.
There is also room for a few more that will be finalised today.
The president said a tough weekend of football at this time of year was all about player management.
“It is a big ask of any squad to play 200 minutes of hard football over a weekend,” Stephen.
“Injury management will play a huge part.”
“I think the squad we have will contest.”
The NERU Colts squad haven’t had the same problem and are looking good for the champs.
Stephen said they have come together well.
“They look good this year and will give it a nudge,” Stephen said.
“They will certainly benefit from having several players that have played a season of first grade.”
The side is one of the best named for a few years and could lead the way for the opens in Mudgee.
Over 500 players from around the state will head to Mudgee tomorrow for the annual carnival.
New England Opens Rugby Squad
Morgan Martin, Joseph Druce, Will Chaffey (vc), Greg Hill, Pete Cummings, Mark Buttenshaw, Ben Sandell, Matt Croft, Matt Houlahan (c), Sam Blatchford, Rhodri Lewis, Charlie Sykes, Luke Battenbough, Nicolas Furlan, Anthony Golding, Charlie French, Dave Van Lubeck, Sebastian Dunhill, James Clift, Brodie Rigby, Mitch Bokeyar.