CENTRAL North’s aspirations at this weekend’s State 7s Championships at Forster have been fortified by unprecedented interest.
About 170 hopefuls attended the trial day at Quirindi in August.
The result is the zone’s biggest ever representation at the championships.
The Kookaburras will take away eight teams – two under-13s boys and girls, as well as under-15s boys and girls and under-17s boys and girls.
And even then some tough decisions had to be made.
It made for a welcome change.
Usually they just barely scrape through for numbers. But this year the players really had to fight for their spots right across the age groups, Central North juniors representative coordinator Erin Moore said.
She added that they have got a lot of new faces and players that haven’t represented Central North before, and believes the North West Youth Bridging competition they introduced this year has a lot to do with that.
The school-based Friday night competition has also “opened the doors up”.
“Everyone’s played rugby during the season and wanted to play more rugby,” she said.
The numbers have particularly been promising among the girls.
“We had stacks of girls,” Moore said.
The interest was such that for the under-15s that they have also formed a development side to play at another tournament later in the year.
The Kookaburras are hoping the strong numbers will translate to a good showing at Forster.
Moore is certainly optimistic.
“Every age group has a chance of finishing in the top five,” she said.
The 17s girls shape as one of the Kookaburras best chances.
“They’re a cracking team,” Moore said.
“They should do well.”
Half of the side played for NSW Country while Miah O’Sullivan is fresh from making her debut for the UNE Lions on the weekend.
The Kookaburras sides fine-tuned their preparations at Gunnedah on Saturday ahead of the first pool games on Friday.
The girls will play in the morning with the boys competition kicking off in the afternoon.
That will be reversed on Saturday.
The under-17s will have extra incentive to perform well with NSW jerseys up for grabs.
From the championships selectors will name a 30-man squad in both the boys and the girls for the Nationals to be held in Brisbane from December 7-9.
Under 13s Girls: As – Ally Taylor (Scone), Amy Rains (Coonabarabran), Bonnie Size (Coonabarabran), Candyce Duckett (Tamworth), Emily Dietrich (Tamworth), Jess Plowman (Coonabarabran), Phebe McNamara (Quirindi), Tomi Gavin (Tamworth), Zoe Eather (Coonabarabran), Alirah Watton (Coonabarabran), Bridie Crowe (Scone), Sara O’Neill (Tamworth); Development Squad – Amelie Cobb Johnson (Narrabri), Grace Milgate (Tamworth), Alyssa Davis (Tamworth), Bridie Bridge (Tamworth), Georgie McRae (Scone), Letia Dickson (Tamworth), Mary Grant (Gunnedah), Mia Montgomery (Inverell), Mia Pengilley (Tamworth), Sarah Campbell (Scone), Savannah Charters (Barraba).
Under-13 Boys: 1 – Campbell Alderson (Pirates), Josh Briggs (Narrabri), Archie Brooker (Scone), Ben Chick (Tamworth), Joey Fowler (Narrabri), Lachlan Dietrich (Tamworth), Charlie Henderson (Tamworth), Harrison Louis (Gunnedah), Toby Michell Smith (Narrabri), Jacob Roberts (Gunnedah), Don Watkins (Scone); 2 –Cooper Birks (Coonabarabran), Jackson Horwood (Inverell), William Kelly (Barraba), Tom Moore (Quirindi), Max Pianko (Inverell), Angus Readon (Moree), Jack Rutland Davey (Coonabarabran), Sam Spencer (Inverell), Campbell Thompson (Pirates), Riley Fleming (Quirindi).
Under-15 Girls: Charlotte Eather (Coonabarabran), Lucy Plowman (Coonabarabran), Ashanti Pennell (Coonabarabran), Georgia Moore (Quirindi), Erika Maslen (Pirates), Beth Andren (Gunnedah), Jada Taylor (Pirates), Shanti Kennedy (Pirates), Caitlin Porter (Scone), Eliza O'Donnell (Gunnedah), Aurora Manwarring (Scone), Emily Butler (Quirindi).
Under-15 Boys: Ben Burwell (Coonabarabran), Aaron Russell (Attunga), Harry Schumaker (Scone), Max Gudshus (Barraba), Jack Louis (Gunnedah), Jack Teague (Scone), Harry Gavin (Tamworth), Ottis Bottomley (Sandy Hollow), Mitchel Wilson (Tamworth), Hamish McPherson (Tamworth), Mackenzie Austin (Barraba), Liam Caine (Coonabarabran).
Under-17 Girls: Amy Raphael (Pirates), Charlotte Maslen (Gloucester), Laura Sadler (Scone), Nicola Robinson (Central North), Phoebe McLoughlin (Pirates), Miah O’Sullivan (Pirates), April Smith (Coonabarabran), Nautica Eather (Coonabarabran), Dakota Durrant (Coonabarabran), 10 Taleitha Ashby (Coonabarabran), Maddison McGovern (Pirates), Elsie Hunt (Central North).
Under-17 Boys: Kendel MacTavish (Farrer), Brodie Nankivell (Quirindi), Wayne Seabrook (Pirates), Liam Allan (Pirates), Flynn Bowyer (Pirates), Toby Maslen (Pirates), Lachlan O'Keefe (Farrer), Sam Avard (Quirindi), Edward Bell (Scone), Walker Harrison (Pirates), Jasper Somervaille (Coonabarabran), Sebastian Pianko (Inverell).