Old Bar Pirates bulk up for 2018 Group Three Rugby League

Group representative Shannon Ellem will be playing for Old Bar Pirates in next season's Group Three Rugby League competition.
Group representative Shannon Ellem will be playing for Old Bar Pirates in next season's Group Three Rugby League competition.

A JUNIOR Kiwi representative heads a string of signings announced this week by Old Bar Pirates for next season’s Group Three Rugby League competition.

The Pirates have secured the signature of centre Percy King, a New Zealand junior international, in what co-coach Jake Wheeler described as ‘a great coup’ for the club.

"I spoke to him last year but he said he wanted to finish the season off with the club he was with,’’ Wheeler explained.

“We’ve talked to him since and everything has been sorted and he’s keen to come across.’’

Hard working Wingham forward Shannon Ellem will also be heading to the Pirates, Wheeler has confirmed, adding to the club’s already impressive forward depth. Ellem was a Group Three under 23 representative last season.

“I’m not sure what happened with Wingham, but we made him an offer and he’s accepted,’’ Wheeler said.

Former Country representative prop Carlos Kohu-Martin is another gain. He previously played in Group Three with Wauchope, from where he made the Country team.

Kuhu-Martin was at Tweed Heads last season.

Club junior Josh Pearsall will be heading back to the Pirates. A second rower or centre, Pearsall has been playing with Muswellbrook. 

The Pirates have also re-signed five-eighth Nathan Maher and second rower Matt Fernance. 

Maher was one of the Pirates best last season while Fernance made a big impression when joining the late in the competition.

Wheeler said negotiations are continuing with forwards Zeb Samuel – a North Coast under 23 representative this year and Andy Petelo, who were both played strongly in their debut season with the club in 2017.

“It looks as though we’re going to have a strong pack,’’ Wheeler said.

The Pirates were beaten in the elimination semi-final last season.

Old Bar has also finalised the minor grade coaches, with Ben Witchard, Stu Witchard and Grant Wells to run reserves grade and Andrew Wilkes and Darrin Dark the under 18s. Nigel Lyons stays in charge of the premiership-winning women's league tag.

Wheeler will coach first grade in tandem with Jason Morrissey, who steered the Pirates to the 2013 grand final. Morrissey will replace Danny Russell, who will be Wingham’s captain-coach in 2017.

The Pirates will start training on Tuesday January 9 at Old Bar Reserve from 6pm while the club will play in the Coffs Harbour nines tournament as well as the annual ‘Clash of the Pirates’ against Carrington Pirates on a date to be confirmed.

The Group Three pre-season will start on March 10 and 11 and will be played in northern and southern pools.