Electric back three could switch Central North on

CENTRAL North schoolboys are hopeful an “electric” back three might power them to success at this weekend’s NSW Country Schoolboys Championships in Armidale.

TAS students (from left) Ben Caskey, Hayden Shepherd, and Nicholas Finney line up in this weekend’s big schoolboy championship in Armidale.

TAS students (from left) Ben Caskey, Hayden Shepherd, and Nicholas Finney line up in this weekend’s big schoolboy championship in Armidale.

Five country NSW regions will contest the championships in U16s and four in the Opens.

While Central North has an imposing forward pack,  coach Bernie Williams said, the backs will play off Angus McTavish at fly half, and have an electric back three, with the line-breaking Brad Thrift at fullback and Brayden Grehan and Tom Brazel on the wings.

Having that strike power at the back will take away the kicking-for- territory game that is a trademark of New England rugby.

“Our counter attack will give us a lot of strike power,” Williams said.

“Powerful props, a tough backrow and our dazzling backline working together will get the job done for CN school success.”

CN also have the luxury of combinations that already play together in club rugby, or in previous rep teams.

Only three players in the squad are not based in Tamworth.

Ultimately, the boys will be looking for a spot in the NSW Country Schools team but there will also be a development squad selected.

That squad will tour Hong Kong and Singapore next year.

Not only will CN be looking to beat New England but also Far North Coast and Mid North Coast to win the Bernie McGrane Shield.

The U16s will also have to contest with a team from Central West, who won the Country Championships in the opens this year, for the Don Wiburd Trophy. 

This is the last year of the competition as from next year players will have to go either through their clubs or the school knockout to gain higher honours.

New England also boasts a strong side, including TAS students Nicholas Finney, Ben Caskey and Hayden Shepherd. 

Caskey and Shepherd, new to TAS this year, played for Central North under 16s at last year’s carnival, with Shepherd selected for a development squad which toured the United States in April.

Shepherd is hoping it will be back to back wins for New England who have won the Opens for the past two years.

 “It’s exciting to be part of it and a shame it’s the last year,” Caskey said.

“It provided a lot of opportunities for playing at a higher representative level.”

Williams believes he has the team to upset New England in the final year of the competition.

“The clash with New England will be the highlight of the weekend,” Williams said.

“Our powerful pack up front and our dazzling backline should get us over the line this year.”

Kick-off will be at 9am today , going right through to the presentations and selections announced around midday tomorrow.

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