NRL greats Laurie Daley and Andrew Johns will have their namesake on a new series of CRL Country Championships, which kicks-off this weekend.
The new junior representative competitions will feature more thanr 550 of the best young players from across Regional NSW, including a number from Group Seven, and see a total of 52 games played in 23 towns across the state over seven-weeks.
The under 16s (Andrew Johns Cup) and under 18s (Laurie Daley Cup) competitions will feature 11 teams taking the field in each age division, with eight of the 11 franchises currently linked with NRL clubs; with the aim of having all regions aligned by the start of the 2019 season.
CRL Chairman John Anderson said Tuesday’s announcement and associated partnership with NRL clubs is a watershed moment for Country Rugby League.
“Country Rugby League is committed to providing the best pathway for players from Regional NSW and I’d like to acknowledge the wonderful support we’ve received from the Australian Rugby League Commission and NRL clubs in forming these competitions,” said Anderson.
“With the majority of players in New South Wales coming from regional areas, it’s vital that our players can be part of an NRL pathway without having to leave home and we’re extremely grateful to have the support of the clubs for our new junior representative competitions.”
In the under 16s Illawarra South Coast Dragons squad, Group Seven will be represented by Kiama’s Dane Nelson, William Webb and Ethan O’Connell, Shellharbour’s Cooper Askew, Albion Park-Oak Flats’ Jordan Morn, Logan Stubbs and Liam Lynch and Milton-Ulladulla’s Bailey Tooth, Luke Millard and Jarred Hendrie.
While the Group Seven products who have been named in the Illawarra South Coast Dragons under 18s squad are Albion Park-Oak Flats’ Jake Brisbane and Sione Lufe and Berry-Shoalhaven Heads’ Oliver and Charlie Parrish.
In round one, the under 16s play the Monaro Colts at the Bega Recreational Ground from 12pm Saturday, while the under 18s play the same opponents straight after at 1.15pm.
Under 16s: 1. Jye Patterson (Thirroul), 2. Dane Nelson (Kiama), 3. Alex Lobb (Western Suburbs), 4. Jordan Morn © (Albion Park-Oak Flats), 5. Bailey Tooth (Milton Ulladulla), 6. Jordan Wolhar (Dapto), 7. Luke Millard (Milton Ulladulla), 8. Ben Byron (Collegians), 9. Giovanni Nassau (Western Suburbs), 10. William Webb (Kiama), 11. Jarred Hendrie (Milton Ulladulla), 12. Ethan O’Connell (Kiama), 13. Joshua Turla (Western Suburbs), 14. Tuakana Rangihaeata (Wollongong), 15. Braith Lawrence Foye (Western Suburbs), 16. Logan Stubbs (Albion Park-Oak Flats), 17. Cooper Askew (Shellharbour) and 18. Liam Lynch (Albion Park-Oak Flats) – with Glen Buffolin as coach.
Under 18s: 1. Jay Watling (Collegians), 2. Joshua Martin (Thirroul), 3. Nelson Sharp (Thirroul), 4. Ayzak Bowman (Collegians), 5. Mitchell Heffernan (Dapto), 6. Jake Brisbane (Albion Park-Oak Flats), 7. Liam MacPherson (Western Suburbs), 8. Oliver Parrish (Berry-Shoalhaven Heads), 9. Blake Barbuto (Western Suburbs), 10. Akima Opito (Thirroul), 11. Charlie Parrish (Berry-Shoalhaven Heads), 12. Jeremy Mau (Collegians), 13. Sione Lufe (Albion Park – Oak Flats), 14. Kane Watling (Collegians), 15. Cody Mitchell (Collegians), 16. Duane Willemsen (Collegians), 17. Carlin Deane (Collegians) and 18. Connor McNally (Dapto) – with James Grehan as coach.