Fountain of youth
By MITCHELL DALE
GROUP 2 will rely on zip and zeal to counter Group 3's preparation and power advantage in today's annual representative showdown at Macksville's Allan Gillett Oval.
Group 2 have not lost to their southern counterparts for over a decade ? last year's match was drawn ? but Group 3 will benefit from a much bigger forward pack and longer preparation when the two teams take the field at 3pm.
Add to that the disruption in the Group 2 camp caused by injuries to three players ? Ben McCarthy, Reg Donovan and Matt Shipway ? and Group 3 would like their chances of notching their first victory in 12 years.
However, Group 2 coach Mark Morrison believes his young squad will have the hunger and commitment to extend their reign as the Kings of North Coast rugby league.
And while the side's overall youth and representative inexperience has many pundits tagging them the Group 2 Greenhorns, Morrison says that is no reason to write them off.
"People could be justified in suggesting it is not the strongest Group 2 side ever," he says.
"There will be times when some players may choose the wrong options, that is what young blokes do.
"But, if guys like Karmichael Hunt, Sonny Bill Williams and Benji Marshall weren't given a chance in first grade because they had no experience, we would never have seen them.
"We have a lot of young blokes who are very keen, along with a couple of experienced blokes to lead them around the park.
"I think it is the perfect mix."
Morrison says he won't be reminding his players of Group 2's decade-long dominance over their southern rivals.
"I guess there is a bit of pressure there," he says about maintaining the record.
"But I haven't said anything to the players about it.
"All I have said is that it is an opportunity to go on to the next level.
"I am confident we will win, but, in saying that, they are a lot bigger than us this year.
"We have got to bide our time, they will come out fast and play intense, bash-up football.
"We have to play smart, control the footy and hopefully take the nip out of them and come over the top late in the game.
"I think we could score a lot of points towards the end of the match."
Orara Valley duo Tyler Corfe and Aaron Considine will replace McCarthy and Shipway, while dangerous Gimbisi Valley captain-coach Willy Lockwood replaces Donovan.
Group 2: 1. Dave Pickvance (Macksville), 2. Ryan Walker (Orara Valley), 3. Joel Asher (Port Macquarie), 4. Nathan Davies (Sawtell), 5. Luke Sprague (PM), 6. Willie Baker (Nambucca Heads), 7. Nev Donovan (M), 8. Lee Harvey (Woolgoolga), 9. Bert Gray (Coffs Harbour), 10. Matt Blake (PM), 11. Dale Carr (PM) 12. Chris Piper (M), 13. Tristan Hamilton-Giggins (OV). Reserves: 14. Tyler Corfe (OV), 15. Cameron Blair (M), 16. Aaron Considine (OV) 17. Willy Lockwood (Gimbisi Valley).