GREATER Northern Region has two good chances of winning Country Rugby League Country Championships when a “festival of football” begins at Tamworth’s Scully Park tomorrow.
While the iconic ground is about to be bulldozed to make way for a motel and car park,eight teams from across the CRL will vie for four CRL Country Championships and players will also be chasing berths in four NSW Country teams – Country Firsts and Seconds (Bulls), Country Under 16s and Country Under 19s.
“It’s a festival of football,” CRL chief executive officer Terry Quinn said.
“It’s great to have two Greater Northern sides (Under 16 and 18s) through to finals.
“They are a bit unlucky not to have the senior side through too. They just fell away late in the semi-finals (18-16 loss to North Coast).
“We’ve also got the reunion of the 1988 Northern Division side that beat England at Scully Park.
“We’ve been able to contact all bar one of the side. They’re all coming.”
The day kicks off with the Ron Lanesbury Under 16s Shield (10am).
Home side Greater Northern Tigers tackles a hot Western Rams followed by the Tom Nelson Under 18s Shield Final at 11.30am between Greater Northern Tigers and Central Coast.
The first of the two senior finals has Greater Southern pitted against North Coast (1.10pm).
“There are some good former NRL players in that Southern side,” Quinn said.
“Players like Bronx Goodwin and Yileen Gordon.”
Then follows the heavyweight clash between Newcastle and Illawarra for the AAMI CRL Regional Championship (3pm kickoff).
“Newcastle were red-hot favourites but lost to Illawarra last year,” Quinn recalled.
He’s hoping for a big crowd (ticket prices only $5 for adults and $3 for under 16s).
Adding to the lustre of the day is the attendance of NRL Head of Football Todd Greenberg and General Manager of Game Development and League Integration Andrew Hill.
NSWRL CEO David Trodden will also be aboard while Quinn expects a few of the Greater Northern players to make the various representative sides.
“The 16s, 18s and Bulls (Seconds) go to Rockhampton to play the Queensland Maroons,” he said.
“And the Country Firsts go to Hawaii to play the US Tomahawks.”
The Festival of Football continues Sunday with the start of the Australian Under 15 Schoolboy Championships at Scully Park.
10 teams are drawn to play, with the first game starting 10.30am Sunday between South Australia and Western Australia.
Northern Territory and Victoria (11.50am) follow before the official opening ceremony (1.15pm) and then afternoon games between Queensland White and NSW CIS (1.50pm) and Queensland Maroons and NSW CHS (3pm).
NSW CCC and ACT start their championship on Monday.