Ex-Coffs Rugby lads in line to play Lions
TWO YOUNG men who received their rugby union grounding in Coffs Harbour are one step away from playing a dream match.
Tim Metcher and Duncan Chubb have been named in a preliminary 43-man squad that will be whittled down to the final Combined Country XV to take on the touring British and Irish Lions in Newcastle next month.
Currently they are the "bookends" with Southern Districts in Sydney with both playing prop forward.
Ironically, Tim and Duncan have been beneficiaries of a controversial change to the selection method with an 'Origin' rule used to select ex-bush players from Super Rugby, Shute Shield and Queensland Premier Club competitions, rather than club players living outside the cities.
A third player from Mid North Coast Zone - Hastings Valley Vikings half Adam McCormack - has also been included and while he is still playing out of Port Macquarie, his incumbency in the NSW Country Cockatoos team makes him eligible.
Coffs Rugby identity Paul Butcher says the rule change was always going to deliver winners and losers.
"It's great news to hear that Tim and Chubby have made the selection squad," he said.
"I'm surprised Rory Walton was overlooked, although he's still settling into Super Rugby with Western Force and his turn will come.
"All the guys are very pleased for the boys and hope they get to the next stage and make the final cut."
Butcher says the downside is country residents will miss out on one of the great highlights of a rugby-playing career.
"To play against the Lions is one of the things we all dream about," he said.
"Remember when they played in Coffs Harbour about 10-12 years back?
"That was about 14,000 people at the game, the biggest crowd for a sporting event in Coffs Harbour and you still find people talking about the experience of being there.
"It's still a bit of a shame that the days of coming out of a country club to play at that level looks to be gone."
The final match-night 23 will be announced on Friday, May 31, with the squad coming into camp in Newcastle on June 6.