THE Armidale School’s Percy Duncan stamped himself as one of the most promising young rugby players in the country at Newcastle on the weekend.
The New England centre was named the best back of the Country Championships for the U15s division and in the Country side.
Duncan was one of two North West players to earn Country recognition, with Tamworth’s Bo Abra also making the squad.
The championship program wraps up this weekend, with the 12s, 13s and 18s championships on at Nowra.
Central North will be fielding teams in all three age divisions while the Lions have 12s and 13s.
Last weekend, Duncan, who hails from Moree, caught the selectors’ eye early on in the weekend despite his team suffering some hard-fought defeats.
He made a considerable impression in the Lions’ third game, scoring two tries in a tough and close 17-15 loss to Illawarra.
“They (the selectors) usually focus on the top teams but I was told after the second game that a couple had been watching me play,” he said.
“It was great to be selected for Country but I was very surprised to have been named best backline player.”
Duncan said being part of this year’s Junior Gold Cup program had helped.
“Training and playing really helped me get into shape for the New England side. It was a good opportunity.”
New England breakaway Charlie Radford was also awarded the encouragement award for the 14s.
Radford hails from Rowena and also attends TAS.
It was the first time the Lions have competed at the junior championships for a few years and New England Juniors president John Beynon said to get a result like Duncan’s selection in their first year back was very beneficial.
Both sides finished their campaigns with match-ups against local rivals Central North.
The 15s was extremely close and ended in a 19-all draw.
“It was an interesting match. A lot of the New England boys played in the Junior Gold with our boys,” Kookaburras co-coach Dominic Shortis said.
“We had one boy sin-binned with about eight minutes to go so we played with 14 men for the last eight minutes.”
It was the Kookaburras’ best result for the weekend after round losses to Far North Coast, Hunter and Mid North Coast.
Their first two games they didn’t trouble the scorers.
“We got the ball but we really struggled to hang onto it,” Shortis said.
He said their breakdown work was pretty good and they defended a lot better on Sunday than they did on Saturday.