Bellingen’s Dan Russell has been selected at five-eighth for the Group 2 representative team.
Bellingen’s Dan Russell has been selected at five-eighth for the Group 2 representative team. Leigh Jensen

VB Gold Group 2 squad chosen

EXCITING Port Sharks junior Kieran Vale may have claimed a place in history after being named in the senior VB Gold Group 2 representative squad.

Kieran, 17, is believed to be the first player still eligible for under-18s to be an origin selection in the open grade run-on team, since precocious Bellingen 16-year-old Robert ‘Rip’ Taylor received the call-up in the 1974 season.

A handful of others have played up a level when both teams have performed on the same day but only in response to injury or unavailability.

The youngster played for Group 2 juniors earlier this year at the Oxley selection trials but failed to retain his place in the Pioneers squad from 2009.

He will join three team-mates in the squad of 18, giving Port Macquarie the largest share of the touring party heading to Inverell on May 22 to confront Group 11 in the first round of the Country Rugby League championships and coach Peter Denham has already commenced his homework on the adversaries.

“Everybody I’ve spoken to says they’re going to be formidable opponents and we’ll have our work cut out,” he said.

“Just the same if our preparation is right and we’re focussed on the job, they’ll (Group 11) be the ones doing it tough.”

While choosing the final composition of the team took a three-hour conference in Macksville, the groundwork has taken months with the nine club coaches part of the consultation process.

A long list of ‘possible’ recruits was originally drawn up with last year’s first-grade playing rosters.

Recommended imports were added to the mix, preliminary background checks were made on availability and all of the pre-season trial form was examined by the coaches and selectors.

It has delivered a side bristling with talent and contains only those players recognised for their excellence and versatility in a number of positions.

“It’s always been essential only those who want to be part of the exercise are included,” Denham stressed.

“There’s still an idea that rep football has had its day but we don’t agree.

“The boys won’t forget this campaign – I guarantee it – and they’ll be stunned at the mateship and good times they’re going to have in the weeks ahead.”

Included are current ‘players of the year’ James Livock (Group 2) and Adam McMurray (Group 3), while underrated Port Sharks captain Michael Bright has finally received long overdue recognition.

“At the game on the weekend I had a yarn to Brighty and he told me he’d do almost anything to get a run with the team,” the coach added.

“He’s got a growing business on the Hastings and will find it difficult to take time off but is prepared to give it a shot.

“That’s the attitude we need ... the kind of stuff that will encourage the boys and make us successful.”

Apart from Kieran Vale, younger players Tyrone Usher-Kinnear, Jack Lhuede and Clark Webb have caught the eye and Denham says he has great faith in their ability.


2010 Group 2 Senior Representative Team

1 – Jack Lhuede (Nambucca Heads)

2 – Kieran Vale (Port Macquarie)

3 – Rob Toshack (Woolgoolga)

4 – Tyrone Usher-Kinnear (Nambucca Heads)

5 – Mark Pledger (Sawtell)

6 – Dan Russell (Bellinger Valley-Dorrigo)

7 – Jeremy Lang (Port Macquarie)

8 – Troy Grace (Macksville)

9 – Nathan Sherlock (Coffs Harbour)

10 – James Livock (Nambucca Heads)

11 – Wade Gerhard (Woolgoolga)

12 – Michael Bright (Port Macquarie)

13 – Joel Asher (Port Macquarie)

14 – Jeremy Woods (Sawtell)

15 – Clark Webb (Orara Valley)

16 – Adam McMurray (Macleay Valley)

17 – Luke Cartwright (Macksville)

18 – Paul Tomlinson (Orara Valley)

Coach: Peter Denham

Assistant coach: Darren Leaney

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