THE cricket season will end early for 15-year-old Hayden Essery, who will play his first game of the Harold Matthews Shield under 16 rugby league competition with the Balmain Tigers on Saturday.
A halfback, the Wingham High School student will steer the Tigers around the park in the season-opener against the highly rated Penrith Panthers at Penrith. Hayden is a promising batsman, who has represented North Coast and plays for Wingham in the Mid North Coast Premier League. However, commitments with the Tigers mean his cricket bat will be in storage until next summer.
Hayden has been travelling to Sydney with his mum and dad, Matt and Belinda since he started trialling with the Tigers last October. He’s played four trial games and trained up to three nights at week at Leichhardt Oval, Balmain’s home base. While Balmain and Western Suburbs play as West Tigers in the NRL, the clubs still field separate sides in the junior representative competitions.
Hayden played in the younger divisions with Wingham in the Group Three Junior League but switched to Taree Panthers when Wingham withdrew from his age division. The Tigers could reform to play in the under 16s this season, however, Hayden’s not sure of where he’ll be playing when the Matt Shield ends in early May. It’s believed Balmain are keen for him to be involved with a club in the city.