Schoolboys carrying the Coffs flag

TWO players and a pair of teachers from Bishop Druitt College will carry the hopes of the Coffs Coast at the Australian Schoolboys Under-18 rugby league championships in Darwin next month.

Chad Hastings and Bradley Field, both aged 17 years, have been chosen for their utility value in the New South Wales Combined Independent Schools squad while teachers Paul Chambers (coach) and Phil Atkinson (manager) will be in charge of the campaign.

It continues the growing reputation the Coffs Harbour-based school is building for sporting excellence and 2008 will be the second consecutive year of representation at the tournament.

Manager Phil Atkinson said preparations for the tour began with a training camp and a series of trials.

“Last week our team took on Hunter Sport Academy and beat them 24-16,” he said.

“That squad was made up mainly of players contracted to the Newcastle Knights so it shows how well our build up is going.

“Our main aim is to be competitive and to keep the momentum of development going.”

This will be the second year the team has participated in Pool A, meaning they are established firmly among the top four contestants.

“In recent years the NSWCIS team has provided a wealth of talent for the rugby league and union pool,” Atkinson added.

“New State Of Origin halfback Mitchell Pearce is just out of the system and so is rugby star Kurtley Beale.

“Unfortunately, some of the city schools, particularly those with rugby connections aren't always willing to release their players but we've come a long way in a short period all the same.”

One of last year's squad was Ryan Stig of the famous Nambucca sporting family and now creating waves in the Knights juniors.

Locally, Tyson Morris came out of the 2007 team that attended the national titles in Townsville and has cemented his spot as first grade fullback for the Bellinger Valley-Dorrigo Magpies.

But this weekend, the new representative team mates will forget about their upcoming trip to the Northern Territory and oppose each other at Group 2 club level.

Chad is an Orara Valley Axeman while Bradley is a Macksville Sea Eagle and the outcome of their clash at Coramba will determine which club is most likely to challenge the dominance of Sawtell for this year's Under-18 title.

“He (Bradley) gets very competitive sometimes,” Chad said laughing, pointing to his mate.

“The good thing is we can tear into it on the weekend, and then shake hands afterwards.”

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