Saturday’s Indigenous v All Star rugby league clash will be one of the best of the season.
Group 16 All Stars coach Ryan Apps said he had “a good bunch of boys” ready for the contest and they’re all switched on ahead of selection trials for the Monaro Under 23s squad.
“They’re all committed and looking to play some good footy, you’ve got two strong sides coming together this weekend and the boys have got to turn up and play some good footy,” Apps said.
For the under 23s outfits, this weekend is a prelude to selection trials on March 17 against Group 8.
“They need the right mentality because when we play Canberra they’re up for selection in the Monaro side.”
The Monaro team won the country championships last year and eight players went on to further pathways or were picked up for top level rep duties.
The downside, Apps says, is that he can’t play reps anymore, but supports the under 23s pathway.
“It’s a better gateway and a stronger concept – I support anything to further the skill base in footy, even if it means players do move away because there is a fair chance those boys will come home.
“Hopefully they can go away and learn a lot then come back and share those skills at a club level in leadership roles.”
Apps was tight-lipped about singling out any of his players, but has a star-studded line-up of some of the Group’s best rising talent.
From the array of quicks like Kyle Shepherdson, Joel Grewar and Scott Galeano, clever outside players Zac Cuzner, Joel Tamatea and Blake Schafer.
But there is also the formidable front line troops in Sean Cornell, Luc Ingram and Luke Dowdle.
With rep places on the line, Apps knows it will be no easy task as Batemans Bay coach Mason Harrison has the Indigenous All Stars ready for a strong clash.
The brother duo of James and Declan Bower-Scott, some of the Bay quicks like Albert Murray and Tremayne Chatfield as well some devastating big men from Cooma and Moruya.
“This will be a great game and a stepping stone for an excellent season,” Apps said.
The rep coach is also excited about the fourth installment of the women’s contact feature.
“Women’s sport, especially in rugby league, is growing in leaps and bounds and they’re only getting better,” he said.
“I’m a big advocate for tackle and the more they step into it I think we’ll see it grow and one day have a tackle comp down here.”
He said tag had its own injury concerns with players jarring their hands on tag attempts and that full contact could be safer to play in a controlled atmosphere.
An under 18s round-robin 9s tournament will round out the fixture of events on Saturday with play at Narooma’s Bill Smyth Memorial Oval from 10.45am.