Representing: The 2010 Group 2 2010 senior squad.
Representing: The 2010 Group 2 2010 senior squad. Country Rugby League Media

Rep football players come first

SHOULD they decide to accept their mission, the entire crew behind this year’s VB Gold Group 2 A-grade representative campaign will be reappointed.

While the side, coached by Peter Denham and Darren Leaney, narrowly lost both matches at Country Rugby League’s Tier 2 championships in Inverell, rep co-ordinator Greg White said the intention had always been to build a platform to challenge in 2011-12.

“While it’s nice to receive a vote of confidence from the management committee who believe we’re on the right track, there’s a feeling among the operational guys we’ve only just got started with where this thing can go,” he said.

“By making players the focus of rep footy, rather than go back to the bad old days when it was just a quest for bragging rights among officials, we believe a new era of credibility is coming.

“The passion started with Denham and Leaney and soon became infectious with every one of those 18 players putting their hands up to come on next year’s trip ... and a lot of their mates now also want to be part of it.

“Other groups are struggling to get players involved and are making them sign agreements to play; otherwise they’ll get stopped from taking part in their domestic competitions.

“Group 2 told us they’ll never do that ... you don’t get blokes busting to give it everything by threatening them with punishment ... and we’ll be pleased if the others take that course as it’ll only help us.

“Another thing in the back of my mind is, some time in the future, this area will be asked to participate in a statewide competition and the positive groundwork we do today will have us at an advanced stage should anything happen.”

Both coaches, manager Stuart Kelly, medicos Hugh Burns and Declan Horan and the selection board headed by Maurie Lonergan, have all been asked to accept reappointment.

“I’m also going to ask everyone to look for suitable recruits to train when the time comes to find replacements,” White said.

“The last thing we want is a closed shop, otherwise there’s nobody waiting in the wings to make a smooth transition when the time comes and it’s always prudent to have fresh blood bringing in new ideas and keeping us on our toes.

“The only thing to remember is everybody from Denno down is having a heck of a lot of fun with this and while we’re on an upward curve, might take a bit of shifting.”

White said collecting intelligence for 2011 was already under way on an informal basis.

“Already we’ve sent an email around to keep an eye on certain players, especially kids coming up from under-18s, as replacements in the top grade as we want to see how they handle the higher grade and how their progress goes,” he added.

“And there’s an invitation out there to every player in Group 2 who has the desire to be a rep player, to let us know so we can check out their form.

“For instance, young Sean Minns, the Comets’ under-18 skipper, has already been given a run in firsts and has asked to be considered next season and he’s now at the top of the list of candidates for the selectors to have a look at.

“That’s exactly the attitude we’re looking for and it doesn’t matter who they are. The bloke who burns to succeed at rep level is just as valuable as the player with super talent, and the only thing we ask is they be decent citizens,” said White.

“Any rep tour, while we have anything to do with it, is a ‘dim wits-free’ zone.”

In the case of under-18s, nominations for coaches and support staff will be sought at a later date.

“I’ve asked incumbent coach Peter Barrett to think about what we can do to make something more of the junior campaign,” White said.

“As it stands now, the lead-up to picking the Oxley Pioneers hardly gives good kids a chance to be noticed and we both feel they deserve an extra bit of opportunity.

“Maybe we could expand into a ‘north versus south’ concept or organise a challenge trophy, but whatever it is, we’ll wait until next year’s format is announced and go from there.”

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