Newcastle Rebels under-20 coach Adam Hall believes this weekend’s representative showdown against Canberra “could open doors” for any youngster keen to pursue an NRL career.
Fresh off the back from a fighting 26-22 victory over Illawarra in the Tri Series Steel City Challenge, the local outfit now faces its second test – this time at the Maitland Sportsground on Saturday 26 June.
It’s just one match on an entertaining program, with four under-17 squads (Maitland, Lakes United, Wests and Cessnock) taking part in the curtain-raisers from 11am.
The main senior fixture, featuring Newcastle and Canberra, kicks off at 3pm.
“With talk the Knights might have an under-21 side next season, this is the boys’ chance to impress,” Hall said.
“Newcastle doesn’t play this weekend, due to the NRL rep round, so a few people could make their way to Maitland.
“At the end of the day, we don’t know who’ll be watching.
“They’ve just got to give it their best.
“The guys were really good at training this week.
“We had an opposed session with the firsts.
“So, we’re looking forward to Saturday’s clash.”
The Rebels led 26-4 in their encounter with the Steelers, before the hosts stormed home to score 22 unanswered points.
“I was happy with the opening half,” Hall said.
“We executed the game plan well, got to our kicks and put pressure of them.
“Then, in the second period, we started strongly and posted a try.
“But, we got a bit casual after that – and let Illawarra back into the match.
“I’m sure they’ve learned from it.
“So far, I’ve been impressed with them, especially the boys’ attitudes.
“I’m expecting big things from them on the weekend.”
The Rebels will be missing South Newcastle’s Zac Jones and Central Newcastle’s Travhon Lemalama, who have both suffered torn hamstrings.
Kurt Donoghoe (Central Newcastle) returns to the line-up, partnering Western Suburbs’ Max Buderus in the halves.
“Canberra is taking it seriously – however, so are we,” Hall said.
“I know a few of the players [in their squad].
“They’re a quality outfit, but I’m confident we’ll give a good account of ourselves.”
The game begins at 1.30pm.
A Plus Contracting and Poly Welding Under-20s (coach Adam Hall):
1 Tom Reynolds (South Newcastle), 2 Cohen Geelan (Lakes United), 3 Sam Smith (Lakes United), 4 Callan Briggs (Macquarie), 5 Pat Achurch (Western Suburbs), 6 Kurt Donoghoe (Central Newcastle), 7 Max Buderus (Western Suburbs), 8 Harry Whitfield (Cessnock), 9 Ryan Potts (Lakes United), 10 Carlin Pettit (South Newcastle), 11 Harvey Neville (Cessnock), 12 Ethan Campbell (Central Newcastle), 13 Tyler Doney (Central Newcastle); 14 Lachlan O’Brien (Central Newcastle), 15 Ryan Weatherall (Northern Hawks), 16 Harrison Spruce (Cessnock), 17 Joe Barber (Cessnock), 18 Sione Tuitupou-Kutu (Lakes United)