Two tribes go to war
By BRAD GREENSHIELDS
RETURNING to the roles of captain and coach for the Coast and Valley All-Stars, Craig Wallace and Jock Moore know that the upcoming clash with Cook Islands will be nowhere near as easy as last years 56-6 pummelling of the USA Tomahawks.
Both know that the Australia Day meeting will be a case of needing to muscle up and play hard to be a chance of grabbing victory but can't wait to play in front of another huge Coffs Harbour crowd.
"It's going to be a big buzz, it's going to be a lot more physical," the Sawtell captain-coach Wallace said.
"Looking at the game they played last year against Fiji I suppose there was a bit of tribal rivalry going on there, a bit of bad blood but it's just going to be a big buzz, a very intense game and we're just going to go out there and have a lot of fun.
"You get that opportunity to play with blokes from other clubs that you don't get to play alongside very often and you get to play in front of a big home crowd at the Stadium which is going to be a really big buzz for a lot of the younger blokes in the side."
Like so many of the Group 2 clubs, Wallace has already been in training with his Panthers teammates and he knows all the players will need that fitness base just to get a look in at the selection table.
"Jock's going to have a good look at it from performances late in the year, we're going to take fitness levels into consideration because we're taking it quite serious," he said.
"We don't want to come out here and get 60 or 70 points put on us, so we've got to make sure we're fit and ready to go because in games like this you can get hurt so you've got to make sure that you're mentally tough enough as well as fit enough to get through it."
Moore is honoured to be asked to return to the helm of the team that is made up of players from Coffs Harbour, Sawtell, Woolgoolga and Orara Valley and is already looking at the tough task ahead against the island nation.
"I think it will be a big challenge, I'm looking forward to it myself and hopefully the boys that the clubs pick will come along with the same attitude as they did last year," he said.
"That's what I'm looking forward to because the boys really gelled together last year and came together as a group but most of all they enjoyed themselves.
"It's going to be a lot harder, a lot tougher but I think if they do the hard yards then I think we' might be able to come home with wind in our sails like we did last year in that fourth quarter."