CHRIS Bamford and brothers Tom and Ben Warner are just some of the new faces named in Group 20’s side to take on Group 9 as part of the Country Championships in Wagga next weekend.
Selectors have picked a strong squad for the annual grudge match, with several players impressing selectors already in their short Group 20 playing careers.
Coach Trevor Richards said the disjointed pre-seasons of many clubs made selecting this year’s team more difficult, but added several players were hard to ignore given their past performances for the group.
“It’s a bit of a concern the lack of footy for some guys, like Jaden Kelly from Lakes, they had the bye last weekend so he’ll have his first (club) game this week and then the weekend after we’re playing (Group 9),” Richards said.
“So that’s not ideal but that’s the cards we’ve been dealt so we just need to get on with the job, but Jaden’s a quality player.”
Despite limited game time Tom and Ben Warner have earned call-ups to the senior side, with Richards backing his clubmates to not back down.
“They played really well through the knockouts and that was the first time I’d played with them up until the weekend just gone,” he said.
“But they have played well and did so again on the weekend so I think they’ll be fine against Group 9.”
When Group 20 won the country championship two years ago a hallmark of several of their nail-biting wins saw players out of position to to necessity, something Richards said selectors had thought of again.
“Sometimes rep football throws some curve balls at you and you have to think on your feet,” he said.
“But we’ve got blokes in the forwards like Luke Thompson who can play in the centres, Andrew Smith
can play in the backline so we’ve got plenty of blokes to cover those areas if need be.
Griffith Black and Whites forward Chris Latu has been given another chance after getting a taste of representative football last year and will add explosive impact off the bench.
Richards said the younger members of the side would not be daunted by the challenge of facing their neighbours in one of the biggest games of the year.
“The young blokes like Sam Eisenhut and Travis Lightfoot from Lakes are very good, and Travis might not be the biggest bloke on the field but he’s lighting quick,” he said.
“And his combination with Jaden (Kelly) on some of his kicks will be something to watch out for.”
Saturday, April 28
Equex Centre, Wagga
1. Sam Eisenhut, Leeton
2. Travis Lightfoot, TLU
3. Willie Jones, West Wyalong
4. Ben Warner, Yenda
5. Daniel Hyde, Bidgee Hurricanes
6. Michael Louden, West Wyalong
7. Jayden Kelly, TLU
8. Steven Richards, Yenda
9. Andrew Smith, Leeton
10. Chris Bamford, Bidgee Hurricanes
11. Craig Iverach, West Wyalong
12. Luke Thompson, Leeton
13. Kodie Charles, DPC
14. Jeremy Woods, West Wyalong
15. Andrew Lavaka, Waratah Tigers
16. Chris Latu Griffith, Black&Whites
17. Tom Warner, Yenda
18. Enoch Tia, Waratah Tigers