Nurturing young talent

WHEN premiership-winning Coffs Harbour coach Brendan Moran urged Group 2 management last Sunday to "look after" the bounty of talent emerging from under-18 ranks, it didn't take long to get a reaction.

Selectors named a 35-man squad following weekend grand finals, including 14 who participated in this season's under-16 competition.

As expected, the five teams which contested the semi-finals series and the Group 2 Beautizone under-16 grand finalists dominated selections.

But coach Danny Doolan said no players from the other clubs would be ignored and additions or subtractions would be made before next year's representative program begins.

"Having a squad on paper hasn't been done before and it gives us a base to work from," he said.

"Once clubs start signing players up for next season, we'll check for new faces coming in and at the same time, consider any kid who puts his hand up and wants to have a go.

"Ideally, everybody will get an opportunity to be assessed and if all the clubs get behind us, nobody will be allowed to fall through the cracks."

Doolan and head selector Maurie Lonergan met with players after Sunday's grand finals at Coronation Park and a summer program has been formulated.

"At some stage we want them to come together so they can get to know each other better, while at the same time, make sure this is enjoyable for them instead of just something to take up time," Doolan said.

The 2012 representative program should be finalised some time in October, once major changes to the structure are set in stone.

Sources have revealed Groups 2 and 3 will leave Oxley region and join with Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League (NRRRL) - the former Groups 1 and 18 - to form a new body likely to be called the East Coast Dolphins.

NRRRL chief administrator Doug Harrison attended the Nambucca grand final and said while the plan to amalgamate four Group under-18 teams into one unit may have critics, there would be benefits.

"It means we'll be sharing coastal links, just the way it should be," he said.

"Imagine picking the best and strongest side from the enormous talent in our four competitions.

"Put them up against sides from across the state and we might never be beaten again."

2012 Group 2 Under-18 Squad


Aiden Baloh, Ryan Buck, Zac O'Brien

Coffs Harbour

Macauley Dawson, Lachlan Miller, Nathan Portelli, Laurie Poole


Joe Borg, Tim Worthing, Brad Southern, Chris Buckley, Aaron Argent, Brad Doolan, Joe McKay, Jordan Sheather, Reece Sines, Ronald Sines

Macleay Valley

Michael McPhillips, Peter Clarke, Jake Bakker, Robert Fernando, Joe Gardner, Darren Holten, Nick Miller

Nambucca Heads

Silas Robbins, Jai Waddy, Jake Russo, Jack Mander, Jake Hoban, Zac Johnson, Zac Sheppard.

Port Macquarie

James Cudmore, Scott Grant, Ethan McKinley, Courtland Morrison.

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