Reputation on the line
By CHRIS McKINLEY
THE reputation of being the best AFL competition in Northern NSW is at stake tomorrow when the representative team plays host at Fitzroy Oval to its Northern neighbours, the Summerland League.
It has been six years since the North Coast team has been defeated proving that the strength and depth of the player pool in this competition is stronger than any other around.
Their opponents will be travelling down from the Lismore/Ballina areas and have been training hard together as a squad for a period of time now, proving that they're fair dinkum about knocking North Coast off their perch.
The beauty of representative football is that neither side knows too much about each other so they just concentrate on getting their own game plan in order.
Usually this means a game of fast free flowing football that sees a lot of goals kicked due to the skills of both teams being sublime as the players chosen are the cream of the crop.
When it comes to cream, there has been no-one better to lead the side in recent years than North Coffs Brad Giri.
Giri (captain) sees the appointment as quite an honour and while he isn't a very talkative character, his actions on the field speak louder than any words can.
Selection for the team has been difficult, but it could've been more so if not for the unavailability of Sawtell's star in Luke Matthews and their captain Jai Hardy.
Also on the doubtful list in the lead up to the game due to a niggling ankle injury is another vital cog in the Sawtell wheel, Mark Couzens.
The most players in the side come from Port Macquarie who represent almost a third of the side.
The selection headache the team's coach Rod McPherson must have had trying to fit so many good footballers into one team is certainly a headache most coaches would dream of having.
At the selection table McPherson actually commented that the final team line-up could actually be reversed and it probably wouldn't hinder the performance of the team such is the versatility of the players selected.
It promises to be a massive day of football tomorrow at Fitzroy Oval with the selection trials for the Under 12 and Under 14 teams.
Following these trials there will also be two Under 16 matches before the main event kicks off at 2:15.
If you like your football fast and free flowing, tomorrow's match is definitely one that you don't want to miss.
Saturday's game times:
8:30am: Under 12 representative trials.
9:30am: Under 14 representative trials.
11am: Under 16 game No. 1 - North Coffs v Coffs Swans.
12:30pm: Under 16 game No. 2 - Woolgoolga v Bellingen.
2:15pm: North Coast AFL v Summerland AFL.
This weekend's: AFL matches (tips in bold type): Last week six. Total - 51.
Friday night: West Coast v Essendon.
Saturday: Hawthorn v St Kilda.
Saturday night: Carlton v Brisbane Lions, Port Adelaide v Western Bulldogs.
Sunday: Sydney v Fremantle, Geelong v Adelaide, Kangaroos v Richmond.
Monday: Melbourne v Collingwood.