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Pickers’ production line keeps churning out talented juniors

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The Maitland Pickers boasts arguably one of the best junior production lines in country rugby league.

Unfairly criticised, by rival clubs, for investing big money to maintain its successful playing roster in the Real NRL, history reveals otherwise.

Throughout the organisation’s annals, champion after champion have come through the Pickers’ ranks, from Peter Dimond to Kel O’Shea, Frank Stanmore to Greg Bird, John Graves to Jim Morgan, Chris Houston to Terence Seu Seu – the list’s endless.

And, coach Matt Lantry is determined to maintain that tradition moving forward.

“There’s a saying if you’re good enough, you’re old enough,” he said.

“That’s the way we sort of roll here in Maitland.

“Last season, 17-year-old Noah Nailagoliva, Tom Cant and Taj Ridley were among our debutants.

“They were still eligible to play under-19s.

“But, we’ve got a good couple of young guys on the horizon.”

Lantry expects Ethan Butterfield and Jackson Shade to make their respective marks in Tooheys Newcastle Rugby League in 2022.

“Those two lads lead the pack at the moment,” he told the Newcastle Weekly.

“Ethan, the brother of first-grader Jayden, runs a really nice line in the back-row.

“But, unfortunately, he’s coming off a syndesmosis injury.

“At a pinch, Ethan would have been pushing for a spot in our top 17 for round one.

“However, he’s just had a little setback.

“So, we’ll see him at some point through the course of the year.”

Lantry also has high hopes for Singleton gun Shade.

“Jackson’s played in both our trials (against Wyong and Newcastle Knights NSW Cup) and gone really, really well,” he said.

“Again, injuries will likely take their toll throughout the season, so he’ll get an opportunity at some stage.

“But, I’m looking forward to seeing how both he and Ethan develop in 2022.”

The Pickers face the Central Newcastle Butcher Boys in the opening round at St John Oval on Sunday 27 March.

Tooheys Newcastle Rugby League

Maitland Pickers 2022 draw

  • Round one (Sunday 27 March): v Central Newcastle Butcher Boys (St John Oval)
  • Round two (Saturday 2 April): v Western Suburbs Rosellas (Maitland No 1 Sportsground)
  • Round three (Saturday 9 April): v The Entrance Tigers (Maitland No 1 Sportsground)
  • Round four (Saturday 16 April): v Lakes United Seagulls (Cahill Oval)
  • Round five (Saturday 23 April): v Wyong Roos (Morry Breen Oval)
  • Round six (Saturday 30 April): v Cessnock Goannas (Maitland No 1 Sportsground)
  • Round seven (Saturday 7 May): v Kurri Kurri Bulldogs (Kurri Kurri Sports Ground)
  • Round eight (Saturday 21 May): v South Newcastle Lions (Maitland No 1 Sportsground)
  • Round nine (Saturday 28 May): v Macquarie Scorpions (Lyall Peacock Field)
  • Round 10 (Saturday 4 June): v Central Newcastle Butcher Boys (Maitland No 1 Sportsground)
  • Round 11 (Saturday 11 June): v Western Suburbs Rosellas (Harker Oval)
  • Round 12 (Sunday 19 June): v The Entrance Tigers (EDSACC Oval North)
  • Round 13 (Sunday 26 June): v Lakes United Seagulls (Maitland No 1 Sportsground)
  • Round 14 (Saturday 2 July): v Wyong Roos (Maitland No 1 Sportsground)
  • Round 15 (Saturday 9 July): v Cessnock Goannas (Cessnock Sports Ground)
  • Round 16 (Saturday 16 July): v Kurri Kurri Bulldogs (Maitland No 1 Sportsground)
  • Round 17 (Saturday 30 July): v South Newcastle Lions (Townson Oval)
  • Round 18 (Saturday 6 August): v Macquarie Scorpions (Maitland No 1 Sportsground)

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