Form clubs dominate Group 2 teams
MACKSVILLE and Port Macquarie names dominate the Carlton Mid Group 2 senior representative squads chosen to play Group 3 at Kempsey on May 5.
The Eagles will supply five members including the vital scrumbase pairing of Cameron Blair and Neville Donovan while the Sharks have four named in the starting lineup, with two on the bench.
Chairman of selectors Ray Hilliard said his panel had favoured in-form players from the current season while adding a sprinkling of fresh faces who had underlined their potential over the past 12 months.
"Troy Grace in the front row is a prime example and I marked him down following a discussion with Paul Davis last year," he said.
"He's young and fearless and ready for the step up to top level.
"The more experienced players give us brainpower and authority while the new faces make it well-rounded and balanced."
Agreeing on a five-eighth proved the most difficult task with Sea Eagle Cameron Blair finally given the nod.
"Group 3 have a pretty good pivot and we needed somebody with fire in the belly," Hilliard said.
"Getting the right man to do the job took up most discussion and Cammo was the last vacancy we filled.
"Otherwise, things went off without any major difference of opinion."
Coach Craig Wallace said he'd taken an advisory role for the selection process and left most of the choices up to the panel.
"There were some areas where I offered an opinion but without seeing Port, Woolgoolga and Orara I tried to take a back seat," he said.
"What they've come up with gives me a lot of options and the team has a 'universal' feel to it."
While named to play in the front row, Wallace is still undecided if he'll be in the run-on side.
"I'll play it by ear," he said mysteriously.
"I'm in the side but whatever will be, will be."
In a back-handed compliment to some of the veterans of the competition, Hilliard hinted a handful of 'grand masters' might have forced their way into the squad if they'd been available.
"Getting around the traps you see some great players and I watched Lee Harvey and Matt Donovan at Woolgoolga on the weekend and in my opinion they're still near the top of the game," he said.
"And look at how well Brett Davis is going.
"The players we went for have big shoes to fill and it's a good sign for the standard when there's so much competition for positions."