Country Under 16/18’s

The Country U16 and 18’s Representative sides travelled to New Zealand in July, where they took on West Coast Rugby League and Canterbury Rugby League in a tour of the famous South Island.

The players, selected from the 2017 U16/18 Country Championships, were looking to uphold a proud tradition of strong Country performances over the past few seasons; with Country sides winning seven of their past eight matches against opponents including Western Australia, Auckland Rugby League and the Samoan Residents.

Having landed in Christchurch to begin the tour, the teams travelled across the famed Arthur’s Pass; where many players were treated to seeing snow for the first time on the peaks of the Southern Alps.

After taking time out of their schedule to visit students at Grey Main Primary School, Greymouth to host an impromptu clinic and skills session; the Country U16/18’s travelled to Wingham Park to take on West Coast Rugby League in the first of their tour matches.

The U16’s were first to take the field in blustery conditions and were supported by a healthy crowd of both visiting Australian families and locals from the West Coast who braved the tough conditions to support both teams.

Despite the conditions, the Country U16’s played fast, expansive football from the kick-off and had scored three tries inside the first ten minutes of the match to shock the home side.

The West Coast side muscled up in defence and played some great football to show positive signs leading into half-time.

In a match that wasn’t a true reflection of the contest, the Country side ran away with the result in the last quarter of the match to record a 50-0 victory.

Ulysses Roberts was named Man of the Match in an energetic display and was duly supported by Benjamn Glasheen and Kade Hill.

The U18’s took note of the Country U16’s performance and exploded out of the blocks in a similar fashion; playing an expansive style of football that defied the conditions.

Despite being tested on numerous occasions throughout the match, the U18’s proved too strong in the end, recording a 50-6 victory over their West Coast opponents.

Joe Bromage was named Man of the Match, with Charlie Staines, Cody Bryant, Luke Gale and Charlie Staines also leading the way.

Having travelled back to Christchurch, both teams enjoyed a couple of days of training and sightseeing before taking on Canterbury Rugby League at Canterbury Agricultural Park.

In scenes reminiscent of their matches against West Coast, the final scores were not accurate reflections of the contests with Country claiming big victories in both the U16 and 18’s matches.

Ulysses Roberts and Joe Bromage claimed back-to-back Man of the Match awards for their respective sides, with Blake Wood, Jordan Taulii and Campbell Woolnough starring in the U16’s and Luke Gale, Tyson Hodge and Cameron Davies standing out in the U18’s.

Country U18’s Coach Aaron Watts believed the tour represented a great opportunity for all players.

“It’s a great opportunity for these players to not only represent Country and play a higher level of representative football, but for many of them it’s their first time outside of New South Wales so it’s a wonderful experience for those involved.”

Country U16’s Coach Gary Jones admitted he was impressed by the attitude displayed by all players whilst on tour.

“It was great to see how the young men responded to the challenge of playing and touring in a foreign environment,” said Jones.

“It’s a great opportunity for players to get outside the comfort zone of their hometowns, meet new people and develop their skills both on and off the field.”