Future NRL players join squad

A FRESH band of rugby league hopefuls are on the runway to success following selection in Country Rugby League’s Greater North Coast Academy squads covering Groups 2 and 3.

In total, 24 elite local juniors out of a total of 43 have received the call-up and will receive guidance from a panel of experts headed by regional development manager Graham Boland.

Players met for their first session last Sunday and will have another training run on November 21.

A more intensive two-day camp will take place in Port Macquarie on November 27-28.

Apart from their skills sessions and coaching drills, the players will receive tuition to prepare them for careers in the NRL if that eventually becomes their sporting destiny.

Group 2 junior vice-president Mark Thomas was thrilled by the inclusion of players from his home club Coffs Harbour.

The squad picks mark a return to prominence for the club, which has been overshadowed in recent seasons by their rivals.

The Comets captured this season’s under-16 title under coach Peter Lee to make them ‘kings of the kids’ while the under-18s are showing real signs of progress for Brendan Moran.

The Moran and Lee coaching duo will pool resources as a dual ticket in the 18s for 2011.

“I’m really impressed with the talent picked in the side and naturally, it’s a big thrill to have those Coffs kids in there after a couple of years re-building,” Thomas remarked.

Meanwhile, the CRL juniors’ annual meeting last weekend has allocated venues throughout the State for the 2011 representative program.

Group 2 under-13 and 14 years teams will play their northern cluster matches in Port Macquarie on July 2 with the 15s and 16s heading to Tuncurry on June 5.

With Bellingen-based coach Maurie Hulbert retiring from his important post in charge of the Country under-16s, the hunt is now on for a replacement.

Applicants for the positions of coach, manager, first aid officer (FAO) and selectors close on December 31 and applicants must have the endorsement of their home Group.

An additional team manager and FAO will be appointed by the CRL management committee.

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