Local derby is opening salvo for Blues’ Group 4 ambitions

NARRABRI Blues are determined to more than just make the Group 4 semi finals this season.

The Blues are hopeful they can be more than competitive when the September semi finals roll around despite losing seven of last year’s first grade side that made the preliminary final against North Tamworth.

Under new coach, John Rumsby, a former first grade player, club president and staunch supporter, the Blues begin their campaign at Wee Waa’s Captain Cook Oval in a big local derby on Sunday, part of an exciting opening weekend for the 2014 Group 4 cup.

The addition of former Roosters Under 20 forward Brendan Tago and his cousins, Charles and Joseph Tago as well as big prop Troy Hopa could be a crucial Samoan injection for them.

“We’re looking forward to that local derby at Wee Waa,” club president Jason Barnes said yesterday.

“The boys are looking good at training after having a few days off for 

Easter.”

Group 4 secretary, Mick Schmiedel, is also excited about the new look six-team Group 4 first division.

With Moree’s move to Group 19 it has taken out a long trip to Moree for the three Eastern-based Tamworth sides, one of which is the Oxley Diggers, a new club Schmiedel has helped create.

“It’s an exciting time for us,”  Schmiedel said.

“The new club will create a bit of interest.

“The three new pommie players at Gunnedah have added a lot and you have the Tago trio at Narrabri. 

“Brendan Tago played the last couple of seasons with the Rooster Under 20s. He went pretty well at the KO as did his cousin Charlie..

North Tamworth will be the benchmark after their Knockout win. They also have Shaun Ferguson back this season. He didn’t play at the Knockout and will be a huge bonus for them.

“The Bears have recruited well too with Zac Russ also playing for them.”

He is excited about Oxley Diggers.

“They are all pretty much reserve graders and second division players,” he said.

“They’ve been given a chance. Their coaches, Damien Allan and Jamie Trindall, have played plenty of first division and have a mix of older players with some good young players. 

Chris Hunt has done an outstanding job with West Lions. 

“He’s got the nucleus of a good side with Ben Jarvis, Shane Salvador, Sam Taylor and young Jake McLoughlin back from last season. 

“They have some good young kids like Tom Hine as well.

“And Wee Waa could be the dark horses.

“They have a very good coach (Adrian Sunderland) and when they get everyone on the paddock they are going to upset a few teams.”

However Schmiedel thinks the Brad McManus-coached North Tamworth bears are favourites at this stage with Narrabri and Gunnedah the big dangers and then the other three sides fighting for the fourth semi final spot.

n North Tamworth host reigning premiers West Lions at Jack Woolaston Oval on Saturday in a grand final and Knockout replay. Gunnedah tackle Oxley Diggers at Kitchener Park on Sunday while Narrabri head to Wee Waa for Sunday’s other big derby opener.

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