Singleton mentor Phoebe Desmond praises selection of her Aberglasslyn players in Newcastle representative squad for 2019 CRL Women’s Tackle Country Championships

ABERGLASSLYN Ants co-coach Phoebe Desmond is “over the moon” this week after six of her chargers were named in the Newcastle representative squad for the 2019 CRL Women’s Tackle Country Championships.

Singleton’s Ebony Ford and Muswellbrook’s Cressa Harris impressed the selectors, along with their regular team mates Chantelle Graham, Olivia Higgins, Amy Waterhouse and Sophie Higgins.

Harmony Liddell and Robyn Draper, who’ll take the field for the Greta Branxton Colts in Friday night’s Hunter Valley Group 21 Women’s Nines decider at Olympic Park, also gained a berth in the 26-strong line-up.

The Singleton mentor, who oversaw the Ants’ success in the recent Newcastle-Central Coast competition alongside another local Chad Solman, was thoroughly pleased with the outcome.

“To have six girls chosen is a great effort,” Desmond said.

“It’s certainly well-deserved for Cressa and Ebony.

“I believe they’ve sacrificed the most.

“They decided to leave Group 21 at the start of the [tackle] season to step up another level.

“And, their hard work has paid off.

“Cressa’s a superstar while Ebony’s got the potential to be anything [in the game].

“Without knowing too much about the opposition, Newcastle should do alright at the championships.” 

In its first tilt in the six-week Newcastle-Central Coast nines competition, Aberglasslyn stunned its rivals to reach the grand final on November 24.  

Despite suffering a loss to West Newcastle 14-4, Desmond could not fault the performance of the Ants.

“It was a massive achievement to make it that far,” she said.

“We actually played Wests [the defending champions] in round one, too.

“Even though we went down in that game, Chad and I thought we were a chance to make a mark overall, especially once we fielded our best team.

“It was certainly something different for most of the girls.

“However, they handled it brilliantly.”

The 2019 CRL Women’s Tackle Country Championships will undergo a couple of changes in 2019, which should benefit the players, according to Desmond.

“I understand it’ll be played over two weekends,” she said.

“But, an event like this opens the door for higher [rep] honours for everyone.

“There’ll be greater opportunity for the Group 21 girls, as well.

“In fact, both groups will gain more exposure.

“However, I think those in the Newcastle side will have a better chance of selection.”