Home-grown rugby talent

By BRAD GREENSHIELDS

IF YOU'RE looking for a perfect example of how well rugby's junior talent in the region is being developed, then look no further than the 17 year-old pair of Nathan Smith and Duncan Chubb.

Both players have been selected in the NSW under-17 team after strong recent performances when they represented NSW Country.

Smith has been given the additional honour of being named the captain of the team.

Both Smith and Chubb have stars in their eyes for the future mentioning that their short term goals are to make the national schoolboy's team next year and hopefully selection in the Australian under-19s after that.

Strong performances over the next few weeks for the NSW team will certainly help their chances of reaching those goals. "All the academies are watching us, like the Super 14 academies are coming to all the games and are keeping an eye on us for next year and beyond," Chubb explained.

"The NSW selectors for next year's team will also be there."

Smith, the fly half and Chubb, at hooker, have been dominating the local area's competitions in their age group whether it be club or school rugby.

But it was when the youngsters started playing well in the Mid North Coast's first grade competition that people really started to sit up and take notice of the talent that these two possess.

The State players have no hesitation in naming the senior people at Coffs Rugby as role models who made it easier for them to pick up the pace of first grade football.

"Everyone sort of moulds together," Smith said in praise of the club's culture.

"Butch (coach Paul Butcher) does his job real well and it makes it easier for me and Duncan to join the side with his help.

"For me, Brendan Hoy is a great help.

"He directs me around and shows me what to do and I've got used to it now."

Even though Chubb's opportunity to make it in the first XV came when Matthew Hoy was away on NSW Country duties, he also highly rates the senior prop's influence on him.

While the selection in the State team is a real highlight for the pair and the whole club in general, it also has the potential to create a selection nightmare for Paul Butcher should Coffs Harbour reach the grand final at the end of the month.

Smith and Chubb's final game of their four week stint in the State side is next weekend which makes bothavailable to play in the grand final.



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