Andrew Johns Cup Preview – Northern Pool

Updated: February 14, 2019

Northern Rivers Titans

Northern Rivers Titans Coach Shaun Davison has enjoyed a fun pre-season with his new look squad and is eagerly anticipating the CRL Representative season.

Defeated by the Western Rams in last year’s Semi-Finals, Davison believes the key to success this year will be consistency.

“Our focus is not so much on the result but things we can control, like effort, discipline and attention to detail on and off field, said Davidson.

“If we get all that right and put that effort in then the result will be the result.

“If that’s a win – awesome, if we’ve done everything we can and still come up with a loss then a better team has beat us on the day.”

The Northern Rivers partnered with the Gold Coast Titans in August 2018 and have been reaping the benefits, with Gold Coast’s Elite Player Development Manager Jamie McCormack and Ex-Titans player Matt Srama prominent at field sessions and strength training at Anytime Fitness.


North Coast Bulldogs

A new Coach and an exciting NRL partnership with Canterbury-Bankstown has the North Coast ready to challenge for the Andrew Johns Cup in 2019.

New Coach Brendan Pellegrino, who brings over 30 years’ experience as a player and Coach to the role, believes his side has a good attitude and are willing to work hard to improve their skills across the park.

Pellegrino has worked hard over the off-season to instil goodwill and character amongst his team by volunteering with the players at local soup kitchens–which was a humbling experience for the young squad.

North Coast enjoyed two wins and two losses last season, but with a number of new players looking to make their mark in representative football, Pellegrino believes his team are ready.

“The young guys are looking forward to the opportunity that they’ve been given.”


Greater Northern Tigers

Former Team Manager Steve Haylen has taken the reins as Greater Northern Coach this year and is confident his side will make a mark on the competition.

Haylen, who has mentoring experience as either a Coach or Manager at local and representative level with Muswellbrook, Group 21 and NSW Country Representative teams, said he’s looking forward to the challenge.

“I just like being involved with football, especially helping some of the younger blokes develop, which is great,” Haylen said.

Greater Northern claimed two wins and two losses last season to just miss out on a Semi-Final berth; but Haylen believes this year’s squad has a lot of size and have come together well, which he hopes will both work in their favour.

“The players are enjoying the representative football experience and the extended squad have all been using their Anytime Fitness memberships for strength training in their own time.

“We’ve got some great talent across the board and I’m looking to players like Campbell Watchirs and Tommy Dixon to provide some highlights.”


Newcastle Development Development Squad

Incoming Newcastle Knights Development Squad Coach Joel Penny believes his team is eager for the representative season to begin after two trials and a long off-season.

The Knights first trial was against the Manly Sea Eagles Harold Matthews side and Penny believes it was a good experience for the players, with the Knights attitude towards their defence impressing him.

Training alongside the Knights Laurie Daley and Tarsha Gale Cup squads at Newcastle University, Penny acknowledged the support of the Knights NRL Development coaches and recruitment staff towards both the coaches and players of their respective representative teams and believes it’s not all about on-field results.

“If they are better people and better players at the end of the eight weeks – that’s a job well done,” said Penny.

“Everyone in the squad will play at some stage and no one will be starting every game.”


Central Coast Roosters

Despite a winless season in 2018, Central Coast Coach Damien Lawler is hopeful his side can turn their fortunes around this season.

After a pre-season filled with positivity, Lawler was buoyed by some of the signs his side showed in trials against the Western Rams and GSR Wests Tigers.

“The entire squad has impressed and have been working hard in defence over the off-season,” said Lawler.

“They are a great bunch of boys and I can’t wait to see how they go on the field.”

The Sydney Roosters renewed a long-term partnership with CRL and Central Coast in December, which will increase the club’s on-going commitment to the region in years to come. A key component of the agreement was to provide new training facilities and the squad have been using a re-developed facility at The Entrance to train twice a week leading into the representative season.


Parramatta Eels

The Parramatta Eels will join the CRL’s Junior Representative Competitions for the first time in 2019, giving regional players the opportunity to compete against opponents from a metropolitan pathway.

Originally from Temora, Parramatta Coach Michael Roberts has a passion for Country Rugby League and is excited to travel to Forster to play the North Coast Bulldogs on Saturday.

Roberts was part of the coaching staff that helped the Eels Harold Matthews side become National Champions in 2016 and has been the Head Coach of the Under-15’s program for a number of years, all while being part of the Sydney West Rugby League program for the last 13 years.

Roberts believes the players have come a long way in a short space of time, are training with great intensity and are fine tuning where they want to be. Players to watch include enthusiastic front rower and Captain Cayne Nicholas, along with five eighth Jackson Ropata and Fullback Eddy Aho.

Robert’s personal goal is ensuring the players become better on, as well as off the field.

“Our goal and especially my goal more than anything else is to make our players better people in the long run; the education and the welfare is really important for our players too,” Roberts said.