Sprague wants the job again

HE was disappointed that Group Three again bowed out of the Country Rugby League Championships in the second round, but coach Ben Sprague will be nominating for the job again next year.

"I've told the group officials I'm keen to go again, but it's up to them whether or not I get it,'' he said.

Group Three went down to Group Seven in the semi-final at Tuncurry last week 36-14 after trailing 14-10 at the break.

"Yeah, that was disappointing, especially after the way we defended in the first half,'' Sprague said.

"But we just dropped too much ball in both halves.''

This is the third season that Group Three has made the semis and the first with Sprague in charge.

He believes the unavailability of several key players hampered his side. They include Old Bar centre Kyle Mundine, Port Sharks centre/five-eighth Sam Warra and Forster-Tuncurry five-eighth Sam McCartney.

Another Forster-Tuncurry player, centre Clint Walker retired just before the representative season started.

"They're among the best players in the group and we probably lacked a little bit in attack. They would have provided that,'' Sprague said.

Wauchope captain-coach Robbie Trembath was also unavailable for representative football.

"Robbie's probably past his use-by date a bit as far as rep footy's concerned, but he's still the best forward in the group,'' Sprague said.

Port Macquarie lock Michael Bright is another who was missed. A stalwart of Group Two sides when the Sharks played in that competition, Bright missed the entire campaign through injury.

Still, Sprague said he couldn't fault the commitment of his players for the two games.

"Of all the training sessions we had there was only one where the roll-up was poor. No, all the players were good they trained hard and gave it their best,'' he said.

However, he agreed that it was unfortunate that so many quality footballers were unavailable for varying reasons and believes this is something the group needs to look at.

Old Bar utility player Mick Henry was also considered unlucky not to get a start. Sprague agreed with this.

"I went and watched him play a couple of times but I only get one vote and the selectors wanted to go with other players,'' he said.

He admits the halves proved to be a trouble spot but added that he thought halfback Bryam Stewart was among Group Three's best players in both games.

"We had a couple of players in the squad in both games who probably needed a bit more football,'' Sprague added.