They performed well at the South West Country Rugby League Cluster earlier this winter but now a 19-strong group of Group 10 Junior Rugby League brightest up-and-comers will face arguably the biggest test of their lives in next week’s tour of New Zealand.
Group 10’s under-13 unit flies out for Aotearoa on Friday, before lining up in three tour games against some of New Zealand’s strongest junior rugby league sides.
They’ll kick off their playing scheduled against the Te Atatu Roosters on Sunday before taking on Bay of Plenty’s representative side next Tuesday. They’ll head to Auckland to finish the playing side of the tour against the Port Chevalier Pirates next Friday.
Orange players make up almost 50 per cent of the playing group, with Liam Anderson, Jack Cole, Shannan Crouch, Jake Morgan, Brodie Carberry, Jack Sargent, Caleb Tamatea, Jesse Buchan and Michael Whitton – a mixture of Bloomfield and CYMS guns – all touring.
“It’s a tour to help the development of the boys because they play in the Southern Country Championship next year against all the other group sides in southern NSW,” tour manager Trevor Fitzgerald said.
“When we put word out about the train-on side at the start of the year the response was unbelievable, so we decided to go a fortnight after the Group 10 JRL grand finals.
“The boys are from all over Group 10, Steve Morgan is coaching the side and Angela Buckle from Group 10 JRL executive is coming along too, to make sure the boys don’t get in too much trouble.
“The boys know how hard these games will be after last year’s tour, they’ll be coming up against some very big, fast boys in New Zealand.”
Plenty of supporters – mainly parents and grandparents – will also go on the tour, which won’t be entirely devoted to playing games.
The group will also do plenty of sightseeing, Fitzgerald said, and get the chance to learn a bit more about their trans-Tasman counterparts too.
“Not all the boys will be flying back together either, some are staying for an extended holiday,” he said.
“Of last year’s tour, their last game was the highlight for me. At the end of the presentation night all the boys from both sides got up on stage and did a combined haka.”