NEW South Wales 23 and under men’s coach Mark Kerr says his side’s HeartKids Cup victory in Orange over the weekend was an ideal way to prepare for the national championships later this year.
Competing in the charity event for the first time, the NSW side won all of its matches to edge out a spirited Orange representative team and reigning champions Baulkham Hills for top spot and the 2013 title.
Kerr said despite going into the weekend knowing relatively little about the level of competition, the NSW men’s side performed well.
“We didn’t know what to expect,” Kerr said.
“We play against a lot of State League teams in Sydney so we know about Baulkham Hills but we didn’t know the Canberra or Orange teams.
“It was a good run for the boys. It was a good chance for them to have a hit out and play some games. It was also great to support a great charity. It was a good lead up to nationals.
“We had a few new players (Orange’s Adam Slattery and Will Kloosterman) fill in this weekend and now they’re joining the team.”
The NSW men’s outfit won its first match against Canberra (1) reasonably comfortably 37-16.
From there, NSW defeated Orange 35-27 in a tight tussle, the men’s side’s toughest of the weekend, Baulkham Hills 46-20 and then Canberra (2) 51-12 to wrap up the crown.
Orange finished the tournament in second place.
Baulkham Hills was third on differential with Canberra (1) fourth and Canberra (2) fifth.
“Our expectations were more than met. It gave us a good work out. The girls are really tough,” he said, adding there’s still plenty to work on in the lead up to the nationals.
“We’ll work on more game play. We’ll have games against the NSW 21s and 19s men’s sides as well as the junior teams. We also have games against the Manly-Warringah State League 1 side.”
Along with Adam Slattery and Will Kloosterman adding some depth to the men’s side for the HeartKids Cup, Orange’s Michael Rudd was another strong performer for the state team.
Kerr was impressed with Rudd’s development.
“Michael came to us very raw. He’s performance at training has been great and he’s taken what he’s been taught and it showed this weekend. He’s really improved his game. I have no hesitation in putting him on the court,” he said.