'Pied Piper' Laurie leads Blues and kids through merry dance
THERE were 200 vacancies for junior rugby league club players to connect with the NSW Blues in Coffs Harbour today and all were snapped up within minutes.
Coach Laurie Daley played Pied Piper, leading his men to Geoff King Motors Oval to meet up with kids who'd travelled from throughout the East Coast Dolphins region to connect with their favourites.
"We've been blown away by the reception, especially the welcome from the kids involved with the game," Daley said, clearly amazed at the welcome his men were receiving.
"Kids are our future and this is what it's all about.
"It's great to come to where they play and have some fun with them."
With Group 2 grass roots football going through difficult times, the interest shown by the Blues was most appreciated by the Tomahawks, the junior arm of the battling Orara Valley Axemen, who sent a large contingent of kids to the park.
Under-14 players Josh Thomas and Chas Davidson wasted no time getting acquainted with any player that walked past but were especially taken by fullback Jarryd Hayne.
"He was really cool and told us about how he got started in the game," Josh said.
"Also, he told us some stuff about the other players and what they do and how good it is up here.
"I didn't get any tips from him but (it's obvious) he just loves playing footy."
Chas latched onto Trent Hodkinson, Ryan Hoffman and Josh Reynolds when he spotted them signing autographs.
"They are pretty easy to talk to and I'm glad I came out," Chas said.
Meanwhile, Canberra Raiders centre Jarrod Croker has joined the Blues camp but isn't being considered at this stage for a team position.
He was contacted on Wednesday night during a short Gold Coast holiday and travelled down for a closed training session.
Croker's inclusion is a reward for outstanding performances with the struggling Raiders and for future experience.