Seven locals named in rep team
SEVEN local AFL players have been selected to play in the Northern Heat zone team that will compete next week in the AFL (NSW/ACT) Under-18 State Championships to be played in Coffs Harbour.
Playing in selection trials on the weekend at Wauchope against the best that the Newcastle and Central Coast could offer, the North Coast team that covered the area from Port Macquarie up to the border proved that they could handle whatever was thrown at them by their more fancied opponents.
Todd Matthews, Lachlan Draper (Sawtell), Zach Bullivant, Matt Johnson (Coffs Swans), Josh Croxton, Fraser Duryea and Shannon Burow (Woolgoolga) will now get to play against the state's other five zones next week as they make a bid to get selected for the NSW team which will compete in the national championships during the July school holidays.
Port Macquarie's Matt Hensley and Kyogle's Fred Sleeth were two other North Coast players who progressed through to the zone team.
In Saturday's trial matches, North Coast coach Brad Greenshields said that he couldn't have been happier with how his group played.
"Compared to the other teams we lacked a bit of size but we certainly made up for that with our application and commitment," he added.
"Of the three teams that played at Wauchope on the weekend, the North Coast team was certainly the closest knit group there and it showed in the way each of the players was willing to make sacrificial acts for the betterment of the team.
"Having nine blokes from the team get selected into a squad of 24 is an awesome result for our local footy talent and there's a couple of other boys who can consider themselves unlucky not to get in."
Hunter regional manager Andrew Larkin is excited about the prospects of the Northern Heat team in next week's championships.
"The standard that we saw at the trials this year was probably a 20 per cent on what we saw last year so I think the team will more than hold it's own next week."