CENTRAL North 17s will face an early litmus test at this weekend’s Country Championships in Dubbo.
The Kookaburras have drawn heavyweights Hunter first-up tomorrow morning.
They’ve also got Illawarra in their pool.
That will be another big challenge and coach Stewart Prowse joked they would be the dark horses of their pool.
The squad includes a number of players who were involved in the Junior Gold program, which Prowse said gives them a bit of continuity.
It’s also given them a bit of experience playing at that higher level, and what goes with that.
At the other end of the spectrum, they’ve got a couple of boys who haven’t been involved with the rep team before.
That’s one of the exciting things for him, Prowse said, and he’s looking forward to seeing how they go.
“Whilst we give a bit away in size and experience, our guys are fairly tenacious,” Prowse said.
He’ll be relying on that tenacity, so too their combinations.
While their preparation has been limited compared to other years, and they’ve only as a squad had a couple of training sessions together, they know each other fairly well – from either playing together at club level or school.
“It’ll really come down to how the boys adjust to the quicker pace and intensity,” Prowse said.
With the shorter games, there’ll be no time to work their way into the game.
“We’ve got a good size forward pack, led by Nick McCrohan,” he said.
“And a comparatively small but pretty quick backline with a number of good ball players.
“We’ll try to use our forward pack to our advantage.”
They had a hit-out against Hunter in a trial game a couple of weeks ago.
“While we lost we came off with a bit of self confidence,” Prowse said.
He said they left probably three or four tries on the paddock and really made Hunter work hard for any of their tries.
They also played Central Coast, who Prowse was tipping to be one of the teams to beat in the other pool.
“They came out at a very fast pace,” he said.
“It took us half a game for our boys to adjust.”
“That was a really good learning curve for the boys.”