Orange CYMS bookend Cam Jones is the first to admit had the Country Championship format remained as an open age competition, he probably wouldn’t be getting many rep jumpers at all.
But, that’s not the case now.
And, with the championships moving to under 23s after Country Rugby League announced the change over the off season, the underrated green and gold goliath is on the tip of Group 10 selectors tongues every time they’re picking a team.
Having started the season as one of CYMS’ best in two wins from two games, Jones was a lock in Graeme Osborne’s frontrow for the annual Western divisional trial against Group 11, this year at Parkes, kicking off on Saturday.
Jones says despite most of the in-form players in Group 10 being on the other side of 23, he’s confident both he and the new-look Group 10 team will be a force to be reckoned with at Jock Colley Field.
“I do feel a little sorry for guys getting on a bit, when they changed it I didn’t really see the point,” Jones said.
“I thought guys like Ben McAlpine, Simon Osborne, the older guys are at the peak of their games.
“But it’s given me a chance to have a crack at rep footy, and I’m going to take the opportunity. I can’t wait to get out there.”
He’ll start alongside young Panthers bookend Jarrod Seager, with Panthers’ rake Nick Loader tipped to take on the No.9 duties.
Jones says with Group 11 renowned as a side with an out-and-out penchant to throw the ball around, it was up to him and his fellow forwards to sqeeze the life out of their opposition through the middle of the field.
“History will tell you Group 11 likes to play that way,” he said.
“But we’ve got plenty of handy players, the Betts brothers (Jedd and Jake) have plenty of enthusiasm and they’re great to have around the side.
“I’d never met Graeme Osborne, either, and he seems like a great bloke. It’s great to have a different perspective there at coach.”
Jones is Orange’s only representative in the squad after Ryan Griffin has to withdraw from the squad due to work commitments and Hawks trio Ethan McKellar, Jedd Kennedy and Nathan Potts weren’t notified when training was being held.
Kick-off for the Group 10 and Group 11 game is at 2.50pm.
UNDER 23s: 1 Keelan Bresac (Lithgow Workies), 2 Jye Barrow (Bathurst Panthers), 3 Blake Lawson (Bathurst Panthers), 4 Jackson Brien (Oberon), 5 Nathan Orr (Mudgee), 6 Rick Nobes (Cowra), 7 Matt Ranse (St Pat’s), 8 Cam Jones (Orange CYMS), 9 Nick Loader (Bathurst Panthers), 10 Jarrod Seager (Bathurst Panthers), 11 Mitch Case (Lithgow Workies), 12 Raki Tukeke (Blayney), 13 Jake Betts (Bathurst Panthers); Bench: 14 Mitch Squires (St Pat’s), 15 Lochie Hobby (Blayney), 16 Michael Ingwersen (Oberon), 17 Jed Betts (Bathurst Panthers).