Pirate flying with Cockatoos

COUNTRY Cockatoo Josh Stewart did all he could to get the Pirates off on the front foot this season but missed opportunities saw Narrabri outplay them again in the opening round of the season.

“Bad decisions cost us the game,” Stewart said.

“We didn’t take three shots at goal

“That is nine points.”

It has been a rough few weeks of close losses for the flanker after Central North came so agonisingly close to beating perennial favourites Newcastle at the Country Championships two weeks ago.

The game was a 25 all draw, which the Wildfires then one on a technicality because they scored more tries.

“They changed the rule this year,” Stewart said.

“The year before we would have won because we scored first.”

The technical loss gutted the team who then went on to play Illawarra but never really got their heads in the game and went down 30-8.

Stewart was one of only two Central North players who were named in the Cockatoos squad on Friday.

Scone front rower Ryan Jackson was the other, while Quirindi’s George Duddy and Gunnedah’s Josh Leys were unlucky not to be included.

The flanker was keen to get points on the board in the new system, but is confident Pirates will make the top.

“You really can’t afford losses like that with the new tier system.”

“We will be fine when we start to gel a bit more.”

Pirates have got the Magpies in what could be the only local derby of the season this Saturday.

“We are not going to use it as a training run like we have in the past,” Stewart said.

“We will have to keep our structure and play the way we want to play and not make bad decisions.”

His third season as a Cockatoo is one that he is excited about.

Stacey Sykes will be at the helm this season, a coach that Stewart knows well.

“He (Sykes) coached me when I was captain of the U20s Country team,” Stewart said.

“We had a good season and got along well.”

Sykes will coach alongside Shannon Fraser who has recently been coaching with the Fijian and Japanese national teams.

The Cockatoos will play their traditional domestic matches this season before embarking on a tour of the US West Coast at the end of the year.

“A US tour would be awesome, I am looking forward to that,” Stewart said.

Central North also got a few names in the Colts side who will play in a national competition this year.

Tamworth Magpies Harry Veitch and George Rixon will be joined by Pirates Mike Carr and Barraba’s Will Robinson.

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