Change of codesworks wonders
By MITCHELL DALE
JAY Webber can count the number of rugby union games he has played on one hand. In fact, the new Coffs Rugby winger is yet to play an official senior match. But the 20-year-old showed enough promise during last month's Mid North Coast selection trials that selectors found it impossible to leave him out of the starting line-up for the Axemen's first Northern Provincial Championship match against Far North Coast on March 12. "Jay put his hand up to go to the selection trials and he's getting better every week," MNC manager Bruce Worboys said. Webber's football background is soccer, having played the round-ball game for 14 years. But with a bit of persuasion from Coffs Under-19 player, Peter France, Webber decided it was time for a change of codes and joined Coffs Rugby this season. "I definitely didn't expect to the make (the MNC squad)," Webber said. "I only went to the trials to learn a bit and get some experience before the season and meet a few of the guys." Webber, a former Sawtell Scorpions soccer player, admits he is still feeling his way through rugby union. "I still have a lot to learn about rugby," he concedes. "At the moment I am just sitting out on the wing and having a bit of fun. "But the standard of play (in the NPC competition) should be a lot better than the local comp, so I am bound to learn a bit there." Not surprisingly Coffs Rugby, undefeated MNC first grade premiers for the last two seasons, dominated the representative squad with 10 players in the starting XV. The Coffs contingent swells to 11 with loose forward Garry Deakin scoring a bench spot, while gun halfback Brendan Hoy would have been a walk-up selection if available. New Coffs recruit Matt Ellis will lead the backline at flyhalf. "There is no one of Matt's class in this zone," Worboys enthuses. "He creates gaps all over the place. "Once Kevin (Simpson) and Adam (Brunton) get used to running off him, they will knock up scoring tries." The MNC side for the opening NPC match was finalised following Saturday's trial match against New England at Dorrigo. The Axemen led the trial 17-7 during the second half, but ill-discipline was their undoing, with New England claiming the Arthur Tonkin Shield with of a 19-17 victory. MID NORTH COAST AXEMEN: 15. Adam Brunton (Coffs Rugby), 14. Jay Webber (Coffs), 13. Kevin Simpson (Coffs), 12. Adam Clay (Kempsey Cannonballs), 11. Glen Matiske (Manning Valley), 10. Matt Ellis (Coffs), 9. Jarrod Fuller (Kempsey), 8. Craig Landrigan (Coffs), 7. Chris Webb (Coffs), 6. Connor Barrett (Coffs), 5 Trent Angwin (Old Bar), 4. Andrew Lynn (Coffs), 3. Matt Hoy (Coffs), 2. Mark Marchant (Coffs), 1. David Tunstead (Hastings Vikings); reserves: Dan Thomas (Forster), Peter Fry (Manning River Ratz), Glen Kerr (Kempsey), Ross Waugh (Dorrigo), Simon Bath (Manning), Tim Elliott (Manning), Garry Deakin (Coffs), Chris Hunter (Kempsey), Jason Partridge (Hastings). Alan Nugent (Kempsey) coach, Bruce Worboys (Coffs) manager, Rachel Byres (Coffs) physio.