Stepping stone: Griffin, McKellar to push claims for Western gig in Italian clash

SHOWCASE: Hawks gun Ethan McKellar and CYMS rake Ryan Griffin are looking to prove themselves, in a bid to earn a 2018 Rams gig.
SHOWCASE: Hawks gun Ethan McKellar and CYMS rake Ryan Griffin are looking to prove themselves, in a bid to earn a 2018 Rams gig.

For Orange CYMS’ rake Ryan Griffin and rampaging Hawks back-rower Ethan McKellar, Saturday’s under 20s clash against Federation of Italia Rugby League Australia (FIRLA) is a massive step toward earning a gig for Western in 2018.

Although both played for Western in last year’s 26-16 victory over the Italians neither donned green and white in the Rams’ under 23s Country Championship campaign, which lasted just one game – the Rams were smashed 62-0 by Monaro.

Griffin and McKellar both have a number of years left in the under 23s age group, but the duo confirmed they’re chasing Western guernseys in 2018 and want to help the Rams’ redemption bid.

“It’s another step for us, this kind of game is a good way to showcase our skills to try and earn a spot in the Rams’ side for the country championships,” Griffin said.

“That is the end goal for me, and I think a lot of the guys in this side too, hopefully I can be there and earn a crack at it.”

“I’ve still got a few years left to improve and work towards it, but hopefully I can get myself a jersey for next year’s country championships, I didn’t get to play this year,” McKellar added.

Griffin and McKellar both said they’ll carry the experience of last year’s inaugural clash into this game.

“Well I had my jaw dislocated in that game, so I carry that experience everywhere anyway,” Griffin laughed.

“The Italian side was pretty strong last year so it’ll be a good hit-out, we’ve only had one training run but the mood among the group is really positive,” McKellar said.

Griffin has been named at hooker while McKellar will line-up at prop, but is expected to spend time in the back-row as well, that’s where he plays for Hawks.

“It’s actually my first representative game at hooker, in the past I’ve played in the halves in this type of game,” Griffin, a snipey, intelligent rake, said.

“I’m excited for that, to get a crack at hooker at this level.”

“I just want to focus on my game and do everything I can to help the side out, pretty much just what I do each week for Hawks,” McKellar said.

“Work hard, work strong, work fast. Coming from [Parkes to Hawks in 2017], I’ve already got a bit of a connection with the Group 11 guys in the squad.

“I’ve played with a lot of them before and that will help, a side always plays better together when you’ve got those connections.”

The duo is joined in the squad by Blayney Bears star Lochie Hobby, who will run from the bench, along with seven other Group 10 guns.

The under 20s clash kicks off at 1.40pm at Bathurst’s Carrington Park.

  • WESTERN: 1 Brett Howard (Nyngan Tigers), 2 Tyrell Charters (Cargo Blue Heelers), 3 Jye Barrow (Bathurst Panthers), 4 Cody Godden (Oberon Tigers), 5 Kade Barrow (Bathurst Panthers), 6 Mitch Burke (c, Forbes Magpies), 7 Joey Dwyer (Parkes Spacemen), 8 Jarrod Seager (Bathurst Panthers), 9 Ryan Griffin (Orange CYMS), 10 Ethan McKellar (Orange Hawks), 11 Riley Allen (Lithgow Workies), 12 Mitch Case (Lithgow Workies), 13 McCoy White (Bathurst St Pat’s); Bench: 14 James Fisk (Nyngan Tigers), 15 Izaac Scott (Forbes Magpies), 16 Lochie Hobby (Blayney Bears), 17 Phil Combridge (Dubbo Macquarie), 18 John Allen (Trundle Boomers)