TAREE City will field four players in first grade for Saturday’s Group Three Rugby League season opener against Macleay Valley who are still eligible for under 18s.
They are Toby De Stefano, Logan Wallis, Oscar Carey and Kierran Cochrane.
De Stefano, a halfback, played the back end of last season in first grade while Carey was also used in first grade off the bench during the finals series.
Wallis has some experience in top grade, however Cochrane will be making his debut. Usually a five-eighth he is likely to start on the wing for tomorrow’s clash in Kempsey.
Bulls captain-coach Matt Everitt said all have been impressive at pre-season training and he has no qualms about running them in first grade.
Taree hasn’t made any major signings for this year, with Everitt happy with the local talent he has at his disposal.
“We have good local boys here and we don’t need to be signing every Tom, Dick and Harry,’’ he said.
Everitt added that some players who had been linked to other Group Three clubs will be staying with the Bulls. However, he wouldn’t say who they were until this had been confirmed. Everitt will be playing in the forwards, although he hasn’t made up his mind where yet.
“I’ll be sort of a jack of all trades and play where I think I’m needed the most,’’ he said.
Everitt said he will be looking to get more game time this year from interchange forward Michael Peachey, who joined the club in 2017. Peachey works out of the area and can only train once a week, but Everitt said he will strip fitter this year.
“I’ll be hoping to get 40 or 50 minutes each week out of ‘Peach’, possibly even longer,’’ he said.
Three in Northern squad
THREE Group Three players have been named in the Northern side to meet Southern in a trial for the Country Rugby League women’s side in Mudgee tomorrow.
Forster’s Kylie Hilder is hooker while Holli Wheeler from is in the back row. Tayla Predebon, 17, from Gloucester has been selected in the front row.
Hilder and Wheeler both play for Newcastle in the NSW Women’s Premiership. This will be the main trial before the Country side to meet City later this season is chosen. Hilder and Wheeler both played in the inaugural game last year.
Nine current members of the Australian Jillaroos team will be involved in the trial.
“I just want to enjoy the experience and learn from these players,’’ Predebon said.
Carlos wants to tackle the Blues
CARLOS Kohu-Martin will play his return game in Group Three Rugby League against his former club when he lines up for the Old Bar Pirates in Saturday’s clash against Wauchope at Old Bar.
Kohu-Martin represented Country as a backrower when he played for Wauchope in the Robbie Trembath-era before moving on. He was with Tweed Heads last year.
“Carlos is fired up for a big one against his old club,’’ Pirates captain-coach Jake Wheeler said.
Wheeler is in charge of the Pirates again this season along with off field mentor, Jason Morrissey.
The Pirates will start a number of newcomers in their run-on 13 tomorrow. However, they’ll be joined by a club junior, Jared Wooster, who will return to the Pirates after a stint with St George’s SG Ball side. Wooster played some first grade last year.
“It’s awesome to get Jared back in the front row,’’ Wheeler said.
There’s plenty of pace in the Old Bar backline with Keda Moylan at fullback along with the centre pairing of Percy King and Clint Walker.
“But the forwards have to lay the platform for them,’’ Wheeler said.
King is a Junior Kiwi whose form was solid in the pre-season. Wheeler predicts he’ll be a player to watch as the season progresses.
“It’s a different kind of football here than what he’s used to and he’s still finding his feet,’’ Wheeler said.
“But it will be good to see him in the competition-proper.’’
Wheeler will start in the backrow, where there’s plenty of competition for places.
He saw the Blues play in the pre-season and came away impressed.
"I think they’ll be one of the sides to beat,’’ he said.
Meanwhile in the other opening round one fixture Port City will clash with Port Macquarie in the local derby at the Regional Stadium at Port Macquarie. The Breakers are the defending premiers and completed the 2017 season undefeated.
Port Sharks have a new captain-coach this season, Jake Hawkins, who will renew his acquaintance with hooker Joe Cudmore. Both previously played with South Newcastle. Hawkins also had stints at Melbourne, Cronulla and St George, winning an under 20s premiership with Storm. This is his first coaching appointment.