North Tamworth springs selection shock for semi

NORTH Tamworth Bears have sprung the first major surprise of the Group 4 finals playoffs by naming a backrower on the wing.

James Cooper runs the ball up as a forward against West Lions earlier this season with teammates (from left)  Callum Hayne, Shaun Ferguson and Kieran Fisher looking on. On Sunday he will start on the wing. Photo: Barry Smith  260414BSF11

James Cooper runs the ball up as a forward against West Lions earlier this season with teammates (from left) Callum Hayne, Shaun Ferguson and Kieran Fisher looking on. On Sunday he will start on the wing. Photo: Barry Smith 260414BSF11

The unbeaten Bears play Gunnedah Bulldogs in Sunday’s major semi-final at Jack Woolaston Oval but have gone for solidity instead of speed after naming young backrower James Cooper on the wing.

Cooper was a fixture in the Bears pack before he took a mid season break to holiday at the World Cup in Brazil.

Since returning, he’s found it tough to break back into the starting line-up but has done it through an unconventional channel.

“He’ll be right,”  North Tamworth  coach Brad McManus said of Cooper.

“He’s quick enough.

“We’ve got a few blokes who can play a number of different positions.”

Ky RuRu is one.

He’s been named as a reserve and has played centre, five-eighth, lock, second row and prop this season already.

Hooker Brock Wadwell is also on the bench and is a former winger. 

McManus has only named 16 as well, with Sam Jacobson away for work.

“We’ll use someone out of reserve grade on the day,” McManus said.

“Anthony Williams has been going well – it  might be him.

“It should be a good day for us. “We’ve trained well – the week off didn’t hurt us.”

The Bears’ second grade also plays a major semi against Quirindi/West Lions while their Under 18 side sits in the wings waiting for the loser of Sunday’s major semi between Gunnedah and Narrabri. 

The Bears’ Ladies League Tag also plays a major semi against Oxley Diggers.

The major semi begins at 10.30am.

NORTH TAMWORTH SQUAD: 1 Richard Clegg, 2 Callum Hayne, 3 Brad Marshall, 4 Zac Russ, 5 James Cooper, 6 Abel Carney, 7 Kieran Fisher, 8 Jake Cocking, 9 Shaun Ferguson, 10 Bill Jefrrey, 11 Marshall Barker (capt), 12 Shane Wadwell, 13 Nic Dobson, 14 Ky Ru Ru, 15 Brock Wadwell, 16 Luke Byrnes, 17 TBA. Coach - Brad McManus.

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