THIS Saturday, the South Coast’s top junior rugby league talent will take their first steps towards country glory, as they play round one of the Country Rugby League Country Championships.
Both of Group 7’s under 14s and under 15s teams will take on rivals Group 11 at Collegians Sporting Complex, Wollongong.
The under 14s will do battle first at 9am, before the under 15s take the field at 10am.
Under 15s coach Jayson Smith, who has an association with both Kiama and Gerringong, is excited for his squad to show off their talent.
“We have been together as a squad for close to nine weeks and the training sessions have been great,” Smith said.
“With 14 of the group the same as last year’s under 14s squad, which lost the plate final to Group 21 14-12, it has put as in good stead for this year.
“We lost a couple of kids to rugby union but the players that have come in haven’t missed a beat.”
Those players include Joshua Coric, who had a knee injury last season, Mitchell Langford and Harley Nizza.
“Joshua is one of those props who goes all day and I believe has a massive future in the sport,”Smith said.
“Both Mitch and Harley have come in as back-row/centres and their defence has been outstanding – nothing gets past either of them.
“Other players that have impressed are my core – Riley Wooden, Corey Herdegen and Brody Foster, who will be playing hooker, halfback and five-eighth.
“They all set the team up well and lead by example on and off the field, as does our team’s co-captains Cooper Tunbridge and Kade Roberts.”
Smith, who has been involved with Group 7 for close to 10 years, as well as working with the CRL academy, believes his boys have what it takes to go all the way this year.
“A fortnight ago, we played Group 16 and beat them 11 tries to one in a trial match – which allowed us to put our training in an actual game setting,” he said.
“We then lost by one try to Illawarra in another trial, but were down on troops that match – so I’m proud of the way the boys battled.
“Since then, we have continued to improve and all the boys are ready to rip in this weekend, starting with Group 11 on Saturday.
“If all things go to plan, this special group will get a chance to go one better than they did last year, in a couples week’s time in Cessnock – but we’ll approach that once we get through this weekend.”
If the Bulls teams win their respective matches, they will play the winner of the Group 6 vs Group 9 match on Sunday at the same venue – the cup semi-final.
If they lose though, they will play the loser of the Group 6 and Group 9 match-up at 2pm on Saturday – with the winner of that match progressing to the plate semi-final on Sunday.
Victorious teams will then have the week off before the finals at Cessnock Sportsground on Saturday, July 1.
South Coast Group 7 under 14s squad: Bradley Askew (St Georges Basin), Kristofer Beck (St Georges Basin), Thomas Birnie (St Georges Basin), Jack Bostock (Stingrays), Louie Chilver (Berry-Shoalhaven Heads), Liam Craig (Stingrays), Jye Hendrie (Milton-Ulladulla), Ryan Hodgson (Kiama), Zack Kelly (Nowra), Nat Marland (Stingrays), George Michael (Gerringong), Daniel Moore (St Georges Basin), Joseph Nelson (Berry-Shoalhaven Heads), Christopher Parisi (St Georges Basin), Toby Peters (Stingrays), Jarvis Polley (Stingrays), Jayden Russionello (Stingrays), Kyle Sackley (St Georges Basin), Coleby Smith (Stingrays), Kaleb Stewart (Culburra), Coach: Luke Langford, Manager: Brad Smith, FAO: Brett Mulhall.
South Coast Group 7 under 15s squad: Lachlan Bruce (Kiama), Joshua Coric (Albion Park-Oak Flats), Maxwell Flynn (Kiama), Brody Foster (Gerringong), Noah Galway (Kiama), Jarred Hendrie (Milton-Ulladulla), Corey Herdegen (Albion Park-Oak Flats), Mitchell Langford (Berry-Shoalhaven Heads), Cooper Lee (Kiama), Liam Lynch (Albion Park-Oak Flats), Beau Manley (Kiama), Jordan Morn (Albion Park-Oak Flats), Harley Nizza (Albion Park-Oak Flats), Ryan Patsalides (Gerringong), Jesse Prinsse (Albion Park-Oak Flats), Kade Roberts (Kiama), Logan Stubbs (Albion Park-Oak Flats), Cooper Tunbridge (Albion Park-Oak Flats), William Webb (Kiama), Riley Wooden (Milton-Ulladulla), Coach: Jayson Smith, Manager: Steve Timms, FAO: Mick Deen.