GROUP 4 begins a new season this weekend with a new major sponsor and a new look competition.
It’s a change that has Group 4 chairman, Ray McCoy, excited and expectant.
He believes the sponsorship of Woodleys Isuzu Ute is just the start of something special for a competition finding a new path.
He’s delighted all the clubs, previously first and second division, are “giving it a shot”.
“All the clubs are embracing it,” he said of a re-structured first and second grade men’s competition with a six under-18 and 11 Ladies League Tag teams.
“It is the unknown and it is all interesting. A new season with a new sponsor, Woodleys Isuzu Ute. And if it goes well, like I think it will, Woodleys are in for the long haul. They also want to build on this like we do.”
McCoy also thinks the opening round games are “crackers”.
“You’ve got Bendemeer hosting North Tamworth at Bendemeer Oval. Someone had to play Norths first up. Will Jerrard is coaching Bendy and Nathan Blacklock is going to help him.”
Norths have a similar side to last year with some talented young players coming through but McCoy believes the match of the round could be at David Taylor Park, Werris Creek where the Magpies host the Dungowan Cowboys.
“Both clubs will also field Under 18’s as well,” he said.
“Boggabri and Kootingal also have Under 18s too and they play off in Boggabri on Saturday as well. Boggy trialled well against Narrabri too and their ladies League Tag side also had a good trial win as well.”
Shane Rampling is coaching the Boggabri Kangaroos while Geoff Sharpe heads the Kootingal Roosters.
“Should be a good first grade game out there at Boggabri while the game at the Creek should also be exciting. You have two unknowns, both sides have plenty of new players and Dungowan did play well in the first half of their trial with North Tamworth,” McCoy said.
“Then we also have a big local derby at Gunnedah between the Bulldogs and Narrabri Blues. They are playing for the John “Dallas” Donnelly Memorial.
“Gunnedah has the Jaeger boys, Reese and Hayden back. Reese played for the Roosters and then Newcastle in the NRL. With Matt Brady there they are looking pretty good under coach Sean Hayne. Hayden Smith is also back from Maitland too.
“Wayne Saunders is coaching Narrabri and he has them fit so it should be a good game on Sunday.”
South West Robins and Barraba round out the weekend with second grade and ladies league tag matches at Scully Park.
“Barraba lost a trial to Gunnedah but under Tim Coombes and Jesse Phillips have strengthened their numbers. Their girls’ side is also very good too.”
Wee Waa has the first round bye.
“So there are a lot of unknowns for the first round,” McCoy said.
“All the clubs have addressed the changes and they all know they are not just a game of football but an event and they need to promote their home games as such. They also know we have a strict code of conduct. But we do have some good games to kick it all off. I wish them the best.”
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