The Greater Northern Tigers’ junior teams are ready to step up in tough starts to their Country Championship campaigns at Aberdeen’s McKinnon Oval this weekend.
The region’s under-16 and under-18 sides tackle North Coast in their opening round clashes on Saturday 6 February, with the Brett Jarrett-coached youngsters starting with an 11am kick-off against the Bulldogs.
Greater Northern Tigers regional manager Scott Bone said both outfits had been in training since November last year.
The under-16s particularly, coached by Jarrett, have been impressive, winning a recent trial against Newcastle and working hard in the off-season.
“We started with a squad of 34 and now have it down to about 24,” Bone said.
“We can only play 18 this weekend but it is quite likely all of them will play at some stage because of injuries.”
The Tigers have five rounds to face, four against teams from their half of the competition and then a cross-over showdown against Western Division.
“All 18 players, in the 16s this weekend, have come through the NIAS program,” Bone said of the Northern Inland Academy of Sport.
James Cooper is the NIAS CEO and the premiership-winning North Tamworth prop expects them to play well after seeing many of them come through the program.
“Last year was a bit different, we ran a satellite initiative basically about skill development,” he explained.
“We had sessions in Groups 4, 19 and 21 and then came together in a combined session that the Canterbury Bulldogs came up for.
“It was a good reflection on the NSWRL Pathways system.”
He also said some players, such as Mark Simon (18s prop), reckoned the NIAS tour to Fiji two years ago were “great eye-openers”.
“Mark told me recently he learnt so much playing over there,” Cooper added.
- by Geoff Newling
GREATER NORTHERN TIGERS v NORTH COAST BULLDOGS
McKinnon Oval, Aberdeen – Saturday February 6
ANDREW JOHNS CUP
Under-16s – kick-off 11am
GREATER NORTHERN TIGERS: 1: Riley Pennell (Scone), 2 Drewe Gilbert (Scone), 3 Tully Whollert (Singleton), 4 Riley Witherdin (Dungowan), 5 Jack Smyth (Singleton), 6 Charlie Henderson (Farrer), 7 Callum Dowell (Scone), 8 Matthew Ross (Gunnedah), 9 Talon Harrington (Scone), 10 Sebastian Lawler (Tamworth Collegians), 11 Lachlan Bonnell (Dungowan), 12 Logan Spinks (Farrer), 13 Nathaniel Follington (Farrer), 14 Jacob Cordina (Scone), 15 Jasper Thistle (Dungowan), 16 Brady Roser (scone), 17 Harrison Vermeulen (Farrer), 18 Gabriel Stafa (Singleton). Coach – Brett Jarrett (Dungowan)
NORTH COAST BULLDOGS: 1 Elijah Coles, 2 William Hogan, 3 Luke Calthorpe, 4 Connor Latham, 5 Bill Butlin, 6 Navren Willett, 7 Hamish Wilson, 8 Lachlan Mifsud, 9 Hudson Harmer, 10 Tavis Felsch, 11 Harrison Brennan, 12 Jack Margetts, 13 Emannuel Degle, 14 Kristan Doolan, 15 Jacob Earl, 16 Joel Power, 17 Diem Mason-Woods, 18 Joshua Margetts. Coach – Brendan Pellegeino
LAURIE DALEY CUP
Under-18s – kick-off 12.20pm
GREATER NORTHERN TIGERS: 1 Mitch Henderson (Farrer), 2 Jesse Cadalbert (Scone), 3 Blake Johnston (Scone), 4 Corben Hampstead (Singleton), 5 Dylan Smith (Werris Creek), 6 Ethan Antzakles (Farrer), 7 Pichai Dixon (Aberdeen), 8 Mark Simon (North Tamworth), 9 Harry Reid (Singleton), 10 Jake Clydesdale (Scone), 11 Luke Smith (Denman), 12 Hayden Bull (Scone), 13 Samuel Fechner (Werris Creek), 14 Ned Chapman (Denman), 15 Toby Taggart (Farrer), 16 Alexander Lawrence (Moree), 17 Charlie Parsons (Werris Creek), 18 Billy Youman (Guyra), 19 Daniel McMillan (Narrabri), 20 Joash Boney (North Tamworth). Coach – Darryl Rando (Scone)
NORTH COAST BULLDOGS: 1 Tirell Dungay, 2 Joshua Power, 3 Corey Lewis, 4 Christopher Bull, 5 TBA, 6 Timothy Bull, 7 Aston Pollard, 8 Riley Mylrea, 9 Grady Spokes, 10 Travys Downton, 11 Peter Conroy, 12 TBA, 13 Benjamin Brennan, 14 Ty-Jesse Brabant, 16 Ryan Maloney, 17 Bailey Thompson, 18 Oshay Tyerman. Coach – Dan Kemp