THE YUIN Snakes are finalising their preparations for their assault on the 2018 Nations of Origins tournament, which will be held from July 16-19 in the Hunter.
This year’s event, which marks the sixth year it has been staged, will see more than 1200 young athletes compete across rugby league, football, netball, basketball and boxing.
The two Snakes’ sides will compete against 96 other teams from 24 other NSW Aboriginal nations in the under 16s boys and girls rugby league sevens tournament.
The boys’ team will again be coached by Nathaniel Morrison, while the girls’ team will be co-coached by Talia Atfield and Aimee Lonesborough.
“The boys are looking really strong and have gelled in the few sessions we’ve had together,” Morrison said.
“A couple of years ago, we had some real strong top end talent that led us, while last year we had one or two that really excelled.
“But this year, the guys are all on par with each other and we are strong all across the park.”
Being a part of the Nations of Origins tournament takes on extra meaning to Morrison, who is a proud indigenous man, especially with it being NAIDOC week.
“It means so much for me to be involved, especially considering our team is made up predominately of Indigenous players,” he said.
“It’s a privilege to be put in this position and help steer the young men onto the right path in their lives.
“While winning the tournament would be a bonus, I’m more concerned that all the players walk off the field with a smile on their faces and are enjoying themselves, while making new friendships that will last a lifetime.”
Like Morrison, this is Atfield’s third year with the YUIN Snakes and she can’t wait to get up to Raymond Terrace and see what her team can produce on the field.
“It’s a very exciting time because I know how much all the players and staff get out of the week away,” she said.
“It’s all about getting out there, having fun and coming together as one.
“We are also lucky enough to have a couple of 15-year-olds who will be able to take it all in this year and pass on their knowledge to next year’s group.”
Morrison’s squad features Jonah Longbottom, Kaleb Stewart, Blake Gurney, Jayden Brody, Bailey Morris, Jacksen Tikeros, Brayden Omoebah, Mitchell Lanbgford, Jarrad Hendrie, Riley Wooden, Luke Millard and Bailey Tooth.
While Atfield and Lonesborough will have Marle Ashby, Makyla, Farrell-Wellington, Moneisha Cricket-Thomas, Kaitlin Murray, Tykia Simpson, Jordyn Preston, Elly Austin, Tali Farrell-Wellington, Georgie Fitzpatrick, Ally England, Alivia Brown, Kelle Browne and Ella Conlon in their squad next week in the Hunter.