WHEN two brothers get into a scrap, they seldom leave anything in the tank.
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That’s set to be the case when Illawarra take on Group Seven for the inaugural Trevor Farmer-Ian Neill Shield at Cec Glenholmes Oval on Sunday.
In what’s been widely pitched as a big brother-little brother clash, competition bragging rights will be on the line as well as the chance to be part of the combined Illawarra South Coast Dragons under 23s push for a country championship title.
Illawarra will start the match as favourites but will have as many as 11 players backing up from Friday’s Challenge Cup final between Collegians and Wests.
Coach Wade Forrester saw enough in the corresponding clash last year to know Group Seven will be coming to win.
“From the outside looking in, there is that [big brother-little brother] but the last time we played them they gave us a really good shake-up in the first 20 minutes,” Forrester said.
“I thought we came out and went through the motions a little bit.
“Hopefully this time we can start right from the kickoff and we’re ready to go from minute one.
“There’s some quality under 23s players playing in first grade, and right on the edge of first grade, so I think we’ve put a fair side together.
“They’re all keen as mustard and really excited to play some rep footy. As long as they use that energy the right way we’ll hopefully go really well.”
Group Seven co-coach Adam Bezzina said his side will come into the clash with a point to prove against their northern rivals.
“We’ll probably have a chat about it and the importance of it,” Bezzina said.
“Trevor Farmer was involved with the Albion Park-Oak Flats club so I’m quite familiar with the commitment he made to the game and Group Seven.
“I’ll definitely talk to the boys about that.
“I also know Chook [Ian Neill] from around the office so there’s some great history around the trophy and something to play for.
“The majority of our side has come from the top five teams that were there, or thereabouts, last year.
“I’m excited about what’s there and we’re excited abut the opportunity the boys have got in front of them.”
Forrester and Bezzina will ultimately join forces to guide the Dragons side through the CRL Championships where they’ll look to go one better than their semi-final finish last season.
“On the day of the game it’s division against division but I have had a look through their side and I’ve had a bit of a chat with Adam,” Forrester said.
“I watched their under 23s [Indigenous] All-Stars game as well, and there’s some very good players coming through in both divisions.
“The opportunity for a young kid coming through is huge.
“It’s an opportunity and a pathway for players to grow and test themselves against the very best young players.
“If you get the opportunity to get to a grand final you want to put your best foot forward and we’ve got that opportunity again so we’ll be looking to go two [wins] better than last year.”
Group Seven side: 1. Tyson Simpson (Nowra-Bomderry), 2. Dean Watling (Jamberoo), 3. Paul Bell (Albion Park-Oak Flats), 4. Corey Grigg (Jamberoo), 5. Cameron Cornell (Kiama), 6. Kade Simpson (Shellharbour), 7. Tyran Wishart (Gerringong), 8. Tyler Clark (Milton-Ulladulla), 9. Daniel Martin (Kiama), 10. Jack Kavanagh (Shellharbour), 11. Luke Asquith (Jamberoo), 12. Abe Atallah (Shellharbour), 13. Josh Sainsbury (Albion Park-Oak Flats), 14. Jake Gould (Nowra-Bomaderry), 15. Jack Loveday (Jamberoo), 16. Chaise Sines (Nowra-Bomaderry), 17. Zac Blattner (Nowra-Bomaderry), 18. Harley Grundy (Milton-Ulladulla) with Adam Bezzina and Gary Breakspear as coaches.
Illawarra squad: Tom Bartley (Collegians), Tory Brunning (Dapto), Liam Cassidy (Collegians), Luke Chalker (Collegians), Josh Daley (Western Suburbs), Tim Davies (Helensburgh), Kurt Field (Western Suburbs), Leigh Higgins (Thirroul), Lachlan Hurst (Western Suburbs), Dylan Lauri (Western Suburbs), Nathan Leatigaga (Western Suburbs), Stuart Mason (Dapto), Tony Pellow (Western Suburbs), Alec Reid (Collegians), Cameron Scott (Collegians), Tom Simpson (Thirroul), Tonga Tongotongo (Corrimal) and Corey Tulloch (Thirroul) – with Wade Forrester as coach.
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