NEW England and Central North’s Country Championship efforts have been rewarded at the Country selection table.
The Cockatoos squad named after the championships features four Kookaburra and two Lions players.
Armidale number eight Mike TeMoana, St Alberts half-back Matt Houlahan, Moree’s Ben Colley and John Adams and Pirates’ Daniel Wallace and Josh Stewart all caught selectors’ eyes.
Stewart especially made an impression, also being named the player of the
It’s the second year in a row a Central North player has won the accolade, with Walcha’s Lachlan Brown winning the award last year.
The Kookaburras also had three players selected in the Colts squad – Pirates’ Matt Cannon, Tamworth’s Daniel Carr and Moree’s Jordan Cosh.
Both squads will convene at Hurlstone Ag High School on April 14/15 for a training camp.
At the same time, Armidale’s Emma Gillogly and Warialda’s Amie Clarke will be at St Joseph’s College playing for the Corellas at the National 7’s Championship.
The squad of 12 to contest that was also selected on the weekend after the inaugural Country Women’s 7s
Clarke was part of the Central North side that competed in that against Central West and Hunter.
Gillogly didn’t end up playing but had only just returned from playing for the Australian women’s team at the Hong Kong 7s.
Central North coach Dale Beattie said the competition was very stiff and, while it didn’t win a game, his side acquitted itself well.
“I was really happy with the way the girls played,” he said.
“They showed plenty of courage and skills during the day. They just need a bit more experience.”
It was a learning experience for them, with most of the girls having not played a lot of sevens, and the game itself still being relatively new.
“This was only our second Country Championships,” Beattie said.
“I thought we had a really strong squad.”
He said they’re now looking forward to the Country 15s Championships in Tamworth in May.
The rep season is though over for the men’s and colts’ zone sides.
It was a reasonably successful campaign for both zones, with the Kookaburras retaining their standing in the top tier of sides and finishing third in the opens and fourth in the colts, and the Lions coming seventh in the Colts and winning their second Richardson Shield.
Their first success was back in 2008.
The competition was structured a bit differently then, with the Lions travelling out to Walgett and defeating Western Plains 18-13 to claim the
TeMoana and John Roberts were both there for that and again on the weekend, and played a big part in the Lions’ success.
Lions coach Dave Bokeyar couldn’t have been happier with the way the squad moulded together and played.
“The boys really performed in terms of a squad,” he said.
They pushed eventual champions Newcastle Hunter and, after beating Far North Coast in their semi-final, smashed Central West – one of the traditional heavyweights – 25-3 to secure the shield.
“From what we saw of them on Saturday we knew if we played well we could beat them,” manager and New England president Luke Stephen said.
Which they did, especially in the forwards.
“We had to match them up front, which we did,” Bokeyar said.