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Hunter juniors set to shine for NSW Blues

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A number of the Hunter’s most promising juniors are hoping to follow Bradman Best’s lead when they pull on an NSW Blues jumper on Thursday night.

The 21-year-old Newcastle Knights centre produced an outstanding State of Origin debut against the Queenslanders this week, bagging two tries in his first appearance for Brad Fittler’s outfit.

While Best will return home to face the Wests Tigers at McDonald Jones Stadium on Friday evening, several local youngsters are heading to Redcliffe’s Kayo Stadium on 13 July.

Newcastle pathways players, including Muswellbrook’s Evie Jones, Wingen’s Leah Ollerton and Charlotte Barwick, along with former St Joseph’s College Lochinvar student Mercydes Faaeteete-Metcalf, were named in the Blues’ under-19 women’s squad.

Jones was recently signed to the NRLW development squad after an impressive season, which saw her pick up the Players’ Player award for the Tarsha Gale Cup team.

She’ll wear the No. 7 jersey, partnering Brooke Talataina in the halves.

Ollerton, who captained the Tarsha Gale team in 2023, and Faaeteete-Metcalf, now at the Cronulla Sharks, are named on the interchange bench, with talented strike centre Barwick first reserve.

Meanwhile, Scone’s Jake Clydsdale, the younger brother of former NRL star Adam, Knights duo Myles Martin and Jermaine McEwen, and ex-Newcastle young gun Ethan Ferguson will take their places in the NSW under-19 men’s line-up, coached by South Newcastle Lions mentor Andrew Ryan.

Clydsdale, who’s represented the Canberra Raiders over the past six months, is the starting front-rower, and Ferguson, South Sydney superstar Latrell Mitchell’s cousin, is set to play on the wing.

Martin, the Blues’ lock, captained and played a crucial role in the SG Ball Cup side’s run to the 2023 grand final.

He picked up the Knights’ Elijah Faalua Award for Leadership, too.

Second-rower McEwen, who was also integral in the SG Ball campaign – collecting the Player of the Year award at the pathways ceremony – gained a spot as a reserve.

The women kick-off from 5.45pm while the men take the field at 7.45pm.

  • NSW Blues under-19 women’s squad: 1 Sienna Williams, 2 Grace-Lee Weekes, 3 Litia Fusi, 4 Lindsay Tui, 5 Georgia Willey, 6 Brooke Talataina, 7 Evie Jones, 8 Kalosipani Hopoate, 9 Chelsea Makira, 10 Latisha Smythe, 11 Chloe Jackson, 12 Monalisa Soliola, 13 Losana Lutu; interchange: 14 Leah Ollerton, 15 Mercydes Faaeteete-Metcalf, 16 Marley Cardwell, 17 Kate Fallon; reserves: 18 Charlotte Barwick, 19 Ally Bullman
  • NSW Blues under-19 men’s squad: 1 Chevy Stewart, 2 Savelio Tamale, 3 Ethan Strange, 4 Josh Feledy, 5 Ethan Ferguson, 6 Latu Fainu, 7 Ethan Sanders, 8 Jake Clydsdale, 9 Billy Scott, 10 Samuela Fainu, 11 Charlie Guymer, 12 Harrison Hassett, 13 Myles Martin; interchange: 14 Joash Papalii, 15 Nicholas Tsougranis, 16 Sam Tuivaiti, 17 Luron Patea; reserves: 18 Kyle McCarthy, 19 Jermaine McEwen

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