Talented rugby league juniors fight for places in Hunter Valley Group 21 under-16 rep squad to tour Melbourne

THE youngsters were given 60 minutes to “rip in”.

And, that they did, while trying to impress the coaching panel of the Hagan brothers – Dan, Ben and Tom – who’ll lead a Hunter Valley Group 21 under-16 rep squad to Melbourne later this year.

The side, boasting players from Denman, Scone, Aberdeen and Singleton, will contest a one-off match against the Victorian Thunderbolts, the Storm’s feeder club, at possibly AAMI Park on June 15.

More than 30 talented juniors trialled for berths, in the 18-man team, at Muswellbrook’s Olympic Park last week.

But, Tom Hagan admitted he was impressed by the quality on show.

“We’re very happy with the squad,” he said.

“To be honest, it was hard to pick 18 guys – all of them played well.

“Unfortunately, seven kids (Hayden Bull, Tommy Dixon, Sam Fechner, Blake Johnston, Nick Laurie, Daltyn McCartney and Luke Smith) didn’t trial because they’re in the Greater Northern Tigers’ divisional outfit.

“Although that’s out of our control, we were still able to name them.

“For the rest of them, they understood what we wanted on the evening – and they never let us down.”

Hagan said the excursion “south of the border” could be life-changing for the boys.

“It’s a great opportunity,” he explained.

“There’s a chance they may get noticed by Melbourne NRL development officers when they tackle the Thunderbolts.

“They will also tour the AAMI Park facilities, from the change sheds to the recovery rooms, meet the Storm players and watch them train.

“The CRL (Country Rugby League) changed the direction of junior representative status a short time ago, so we [Group 21] came up with this concept.

“And, it’s proven quite popular so far.

“This could be their last rep game as a junior.”

Group 21 under-16 representative squad: Hunter Ball (Denman), Tyrone Bellamy (Denman), Hayden Bull (Scone), Ned Chapman (Denman), Ryan Clerke (Scone), Hunter Dever (Aberdeen), Tommy Dixon (Aberdeen), Josh Emery (Denman), Sam Fechner (Scone), Blake Johnston (Scone), Bodhi Kelman (Denman), Nick Laurie (Scone), Cooper Maytom (Singleton), Daltyn McCartney (Denman), Will Olteanu (Scone), Jack Pickett (Scone), Luke Smith (Denman), Hamish Watts (Scone)