THE Orange Thunder are looking to strike early in the NSW Junior State Cup this weekend in Port Macquarie.
This is the second year the competition will be held in Port Macquarie, rather than regular host Wollongong, with the extra distance affecting the number of teams Orange sent in 2013. The Thunder sent only six.
In 2014 Orange is sending nine teams, and just missed out on sending a10th.
“It’s testament to the strength of touch in Orange that we can send so many teams,” City of Orange Touch Association treasurer Tracee Honeyman said.
“We actually wanted to send another team, but unfortunately had to pull them out due to lack of numbers. So we could have had 10.
“Last year we had six, now we have nine. The junior participation numbers just keep growing.”
Thunder teams will compete in the under 10s boys and girls,under 12s boys and girls, under 14s boys and girls, under 16s girls and under 18s boys and girls against the best teams in the state.
Teams compete in pool games tomorrow and Sunday before moving into the final 16 in each division. From there, teams progress to the quarter-finals and semi-finals, before playing in the grand finals on Sunday afternoon.
“We expect all our teams to do well,” we know they’ll all play their best at the very least,” Honeyman said.
“Our 14s boys made the final in the 12s two years ago, so we’re expecting them to do well.”
Honeyman highlighted the under 12s boys’ team, coached by Sandon Gibbs-O’Neill , Kurt Moore and Mitch Green, as the team to watch.
“They’re just freakish, but I think they’ll go in underdogs,” she said.
“The best thing is the three guys coaching it have nothing to do with any of the kids. They just see the potential in them and want to bring them through, Sandon mentioned taking them all the way through to 18s.
“That’s part of the reason we’re so strong as a club, we have committed coaches willing to do the hard yards.”