Central North’s first-ever under-15 and under-17 girls and open boys sides are on the Country Championship trail on the Central Coast this weekend, as the Kookaburras kick-off the representative season.
Over the next three weekends, eight junior sides will contest championships covering ages ranging from under-12s up to opens.
Preparing for a busy few weeks, Central North rep coordinator Erin Moore said particularly for the Kookaburras under-15 and under-17 girls this weekend’s championships will be a “massive opportunity” in their rugby development.
It will be the first time there has been a Country Championships held for either age group other than sevens.
The under-15s will play 10-a-side and the under-17s 15-a-side, aligning the championships as a pathway into the Super W.
“The under-15 girls they don’t get to go any further but they will pick a squad to go to a development camp,” Moore said.
“The under-17s girls actually get picked in a Country team.”
The sides comprise players from all over – Barradine, Coonabarabran, Warialda, Tamworth, Quirindi
Both sides are chock full of talent and come from a range of different sporting backgrounds – oztag, netball, touch football, soccer.
All three sides fine-tuned for the championships in Tamworth last weekend, under the expert eye of Australian women’s sevens star Mahalia Murphy.
“It was a wonderful asset having her here,” Moore said.
“They haven’t met many high profile players.”
Both girls sides have drawn Hunter in their first games, while the open boys tackle Illawarra in the opening game of the competition.
Moore expects all three sides to be competitive.
The under-17s girls side contains several state oztag and touch players, as well as two NSW Youth Sevens squad members in Miah O’Sullivan and Phoebe McLoughlin. O’Sullivan went on to be selected in the Australian squad.
Moore believes their strength lies in their backs.
“They do have some talented forwards but their backs – they’ve got speed,” she said.
Open boys: Logan Griffiths, Kendal Mactabish, Jake Hayter, Bradman Walker, Conor Lang, Hagan Size ©, Toby Maslen, Doughal O’Reilly, Flynn Bowter, Lachlan Smith, James Roach, Ned Zell, Brady Mather (vc), Alex Roseby, Lachlan Wheeler, Jasper Somervaille, Bailey Wilson, Harrison Frear, Koen Reiri, Patrick Sarungallo, Thomas McGrath, Nicholas Rutland Davey, Jake Vost.
Under-17 girls: Elly Byriell, Nicola Robinson, Atalia Walton, Cassidy Morley, Phoebe McLoughlin, April Smith, Millicen McEvoy, Abigail Murray, Miah O'Sullivan, Charlotte Maslen, Dakota Durrant, Amy Raphael, Elsie Hunt, Isabella McKinley, Kooriana Boney, Georgia Stell, Mariah Pennell, Millie Marsh, Sydney Wafle, Deanna Holley-White, Piper Rankmore.
Under-15 girls: Georgia Moore (co-captain), Erika Maslen (co-captain), Lucy Plowman, Eliza O'Donnell, Wilmie Van Schalkwyk, Ashanti Pennell, Jada Taylor, Shanti Kennedy, Isabella Reardon, Beth Andren, Abbie Kent, Sarah O'Neill.
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