ORANGE Hawks coach Jamie Corcoran is keen to give the club's young players a chance in the top grade and Josh Wilcox is an example of that.
Wilcox is still eligible to play under 18s but Corcoran had no hesitation picking him as half-back for tonight's Group 10 premier league opener against Bathurst Panthers in Bathurst.
No-one was more surprised to hear the news than Wilcox.
"Corco asked me," Wilcox said of his step up to the top grade.
"I thought I was playing 18s when we played (a trial game) in Narromine. I was getting ready in the sheds and he said, 'No, you're not playing. You're playing first grade this year'."
Wilcox turned 18 only two weeks ago and was part of the Orange Hawks under 18s last season.
The builder is quickly noticing the differences between the two grades.
"I was nervous the first game against Narromine," Wilcox said.
"It went all right. I didn't go too bad. They're a lot bigger than under 18s and it's a lot faster in first grade."
All Corcoran knows about the opposition is how tough they're likely to be.
"It's going to be hard but it will give us an indication of where we're at," Corcoran said.
"I wasn't here last year so I'm not sure what everyone can do. I had to start somewhere."
Hawks were to finalise their side last night.
n Daniel George has beaten off a host of contenders to win a place in Panthers' second row.
PANTHERS: 1 Daniel Stuart, 2 Dave Eddy, 3 Andrew Hinson, 4 Christian Luyks, 5 Nathan Rollinson, 6 Dave Elvy (c/c), 7 Aidan Bateup, 8 Stan Latu, 9 Grant Walsh, 10 Matt Kirkland, 11 Daniel George, 12 Josh Bateup, 13 Clint Giddings.