Hunter Valley Group 21 players dominate selection in Greater Northern Tigers representative team

GREATER Northern Tigers selectors have named a squad of 20 women but will have to prune that to 18 for the first round CRL Country Championship match against North Coast in Coffs Harbour next month.

The Tigers tackle North Coast in Coffs on Saturday, March 9, however can only play 17.

“We travel with 18 but play just 17,” advised Tigers coach Mick Schmiedel.

“We have a good squad of 20 at the moment but have to cut that back after a few training sessions.”

Schmiedel was part of the selection process after the Greater Northern Tigers played an inaugural Open Tackle Championship at Scully Park in Tamworth on Saturday.

Previous women’s tournaments were contested as league tag.

Schmiedel had also coached in that discipline at divisional level.

But, he believes there is a bright future for women’s tackle after Group 21 won the Jane Walmsley Shield at Scully Park with triumphs over Groups 4 and 19.

Group 21, coached by Merriwa’s Matt Morgan, beat Group 4 16-0 and Group 19 6-4 to secure the title and then had seven players named in the 20-player squad.

The defence of all three sides, especially on the tryline, was one of the highlights of the three championship matches.

“Women’s tackle has come a long way since last year,” Schmiedel said of a season when trials were played (separate to the the GN Tiger Championships) at Muswellbrook to select a representative Tigers side.

“The improvement has been enormous from last year,” he added.

“Their tackling techniques have improved a great deal.

“In 2018, it was a concern.

“However, this season, the defence was outstanding.

“Group 21 dominated, too, and deserved to win and could have even had more in the Tigers squad.

“In the end we picked a squad that all the players could play big minutes.

“They just weren’t players who could come off the bench for short stints.”

He is “happy” with the squad but will have to make the hard decision of cutting that back to a set squad of 17 for the first game against North Coast before playing Northern Rivers at Armidale on March 16.

GREATER NORTHERN TIGERS WOMEN: Jessyca Morgan, Taylah Blackadder, Gaynor Blackadder (Merriwa), Brooke Davis (Greta Branxton), Shae Pemberton (Muswellbrook), Lucy Prudden (Murrurundi), Grace Gallen (Scone), Lauren Clarke (Boggabri), Joan O’Leary (South West Robins), Toni Skuthorpe (South West Robins), Zoe Darlington (Barraba), Amelia Tunmena, Alisa Tunmena, Sarah Byrne (Glen Innes), Robyn Broadbent, Amy Barraclough, Alyce Walsh, Brooke O’Halloran, Katelyn Smith (Uralla), Taneika Landsborough (Guyra). Coach – Mick Schmiedel