ALL STARS TEAM POSITIONS UP FOR GRABS
By Les Muir
TAKE a pro-active approach to selection in the Group Nine All Stars team is the advice to players from new captain-coach Cameron Woo.
Eight weeks out from the annual clash with the Indigenous All Stars team in Wagga, Woo is eager for players to get involved in the first representative game of the year.
“It’s not exactly a rep trial but it’s certainly a way for players to put themselves forward for selection for the Group Nine team,” Woo said on Monday.
“There’s so much good talent around and this game is a great way to get noticed (by selectors).”
Woo is adamant players keen to break into the Group Nine or Riverina teams should take the first step by playing in the All Stars blockbuster at McDonald’s Park on March 18.
The rookie representative coach has also stressed the importance of following the new selection format.
“This year there’s been a change to the way the (All Stars) team is chosen,” he said.
“Any players who want to play must be nominated by their club.
“An email went out to all the clubs pointing out the change, but I think players might still need to talk to their club about getting nominated.
“It wouldn’t hurt to be pro-active if they (players) want to be nominated.”
For the first time since the introduction of the All Stars concept a decade ago, there is real determination to only select players who “want to play” and earn a spot in the Group Nine team to duel with Group 20.
“I think it’s a good idea,” Woo said on Monday.
“Every year there are players drop out (of the team), but this process might change things.
“There shouldn’t be any confusion.”
In the past some players have been selected in the Group Nine All Stars team, but have dredged up all manner of excuses to withdraw.
Group Nine, which has taken full control of the All Stars game, has a firm agenda to only have “interested” players in the squad.
Woo said the Group Nine All Stars would be selected after nominations were completed at the end of January.
“This’ll mean we’ll be able to get stuck in from the get-go,” he said.
“Everyone will be keen to train and play.”
With pre-season training in full swing at most clubs, Woo admits he is ready for a return to football.
“We’ve had a good break for Christmas and it’s time to get back into it,” he said.
“I’m really excited about coaching the team.”
Significantly, Woo will get his first taste of football with Gundagai at the West Wyalong Knockout on February 26-27.
The Tigers are among the 16 teams in the Knockout draw, joining fellow Group Nine clubs Southcity, Kangaroos, Young, Albury and Brothers.
Southcity star Nathan Rose, meanwhile, is yet to be confirmed as the Indigenous All Stars coach, with speculation he has declined the post.