THE Greater Northern Tigers under-16 and under-18 sides will start their respective representative seasons in differing style this weekend.
Whereas the Steve Haylen-coached under-16s are built on a big pack, the Peter Stevens-mentored under-18s will be playing a more expansive game, utilising the speed in some talented backs.
“We aren’t a big team,” he confessed this week.
“We’ll be looking to shift the ball around a bit and ask a few more questions of their defence.”
The Tigers tackle the Central Coast Roosters in both the under-16 Andrew Johns Cup Country Championships and the under-18 Laurie Daley Cup Country Championships at Morrie Breen Oval, Wyong, on Saturday.
The under-18 outfit is preparing to play it wide after losing prop Jack Todd for the first two rounds, at least, acknowledged Stevens.
“We’re hoping he’ll be back for the third match,” he said of the Farrer Memorial Agricultural High School student who hails from Upper Horton.
“Jack hurt his knee skiing but hopefully it’s just a two-week injury and he will be back for the third game.
“That will also put a bit of pressure on the pack to perform in the first two rounds as well.
“I’ve been real happy with their effort at training though.”
While the 18s are planning to go wide, the 16s are certain to go up the middle, Haylen promised.
“We’ve got a pretty big side,” he said.
“Very happy with them so far but we are going to have to be pretty careful with our interchanges now they have been reduced from 10 to eight.
“I do have a couple of very fit forwards who will have to play a full game and we’ve got a couple of very strong kids in Jock Brazel and Mark Symonds.
“Jock is going to be our captain, too.”
Haylen, who played for Muswellbrook, Group 21 and Northern Division as a prop, coached the Group 21 team last year and “gained an insight” with them and as manager of the Country under-18s that played the Gold Coast Titans at Lennox Head in 2018.
Greater Northern Tigers under-16s: 1 Latrell Newman (Moree), 2 Blake Johnston (Scone), 3 Campbell Watchirs (Inverell), 4 Daltyn McCartney (Singleton), 5 Brayden Talbott-Hatch (Gunnedah), 6 Ethan Antzakles (Farrer), 7 Pichai Dixon (Aberdeen), 8 Mark Simon (Farrer), 9 Sam Fechner (Scone), 10 Jeffrey Harvey (Narrabri), 11 Hayden Bull (Scone), 12 Luke Smith (Scone), 13 Jock Brazel (Moree), 14 Clint Aitken (Dungowan), 15 Lachlan Smith (Farrer), 17 Ryan Kelly-Payne (Gunnedah), 18 Nicholas Laurie (Scone), 20 Jordan Leota (Dungowan). Coach Steve Haylen (Muswellbrook), Manager – Mick Schmiedel (Tamworth), Trainers – (yellow) Tom Learoyd-Lahrs, (blue) Anthony Cubillo, (orange) Daniel Swan
Greater Northern Tigers under-18s: 1 Trent Taylor (Dungowan), 2 Mackenzie Shepherdson (Denman), 3 Kyle Johnson (Dungowan), 4 Jhett Butler (Dungowan), 5 Harrison Freeman (Dungowan), 6 Brayden Reid (North Tamworth), 7 Steven Dengate (Muswellbrook), 8 Kalab McMillan- Bassett (Narrabri), 9 Clay Frendin (Dungowan), 10 Jackson Shade (Singleton), 11 Cooper Harris (Dungowan), 12 Sam Wentworth (Dungowan) CAPT, 13 Blake Trees (Singleton), 14 Kobe Bone (North Tamworth), 15 Daniel Kelly (North Tamworth), 16 Hugh Collins (Aberdeen), 17 Jalen Darcy (Scone), 18 Zak Turnbull (Gunnedah). Coach – Peter Stevens, Manager – Brad McManus, Trainers (yellow Richard Ingram, (blue) Chris Bryant, (orange) Daniel Swan
Round 1 draw: Andrew Johns Cup and Laurie Daley Cup
Saturday, February 16:
Morrie Breen Oval, Wyong: 10am Andrew Johns Cup - Central Coast Roosters v Greater Northern Tigers; 11.20am Laurie Daley Cup – Central Coast Roosters v Greater Northern Tigers
Harry Elliot Oval, Forster: 10.30am Andrew Johns Cup – Newcastle Knights Development Squad v Northern Rivers Titans; 11.50am Laurie Daley Cup – Newcastle Knights Development Squad v Northern Rivers Titans; 1.20pm Andrew Johns Cup – North Coast Bulldogs v Parramatta Eels; 2.40pm Laurie Daley Cup - North Coast Bulldogs v Parramatta Eels
Tony Luchetti Sportsground, Lithgow: 4.45pm Andrew Johns Cup – Western Rams v Penrith Panthers; 6.05pm Laurie Daley Cup - Western Rams v Penrith Panthers
Ron Costello Oval, Shellharbour: Noon Andrew Johns Cup - Illawarra South Coast Dragons v Monaro Colts; 1.20pm Laurie Daley Cup - Illawarra South Coast Dragons v Monaro Colts