All Stars clash a good preview for selectors
Courtesy of Daily Liberal March 13, 2013
PRESIDENT and chief selector of the 2013 Group 11 rugby league rep squad, Ross McDermott, still believes the group can produce an upset in this year's Country Championships despite the absence of at least seven key players from last year's side.
McDermott heads a panel of five selectors busy studying pre-season trial matches ahead of next month's inaugural Group 11 Indigenous v All Stars clash at Dubbo's Apex Oval, with the best of the two squads to make up the representative side at this year's Country Championships.
All eight clubs within the Group 11 stable have been allowed to nominate players into the representative selection pool.
McDermott tipped selectors will have the job of crunching around 70 players, at this stage, down to just 36 for the All Stars clash on April 13.
Group 11 officials met last week to finalise plans before beginning their charge towards the looming representative season, however, they hit a hurdle late last week when it was announced that triple j's One Night Stand would be held at Dubbo Showground on the same night as the All Star clash.
McDermott said part of those talks involves finding replacements for as many as seven jerseys left vacant by players from last year's rep side who have either stepped away from the game or jumped ship for rival groups 9, 10 and 20.
"We'll know more about what direction we're headed in and what positions need filling after this week," McDermott said.
"We are obviously missing a large pool of players from last year's rep side, but we're pretty confident with a number of new inclusions this year that we've got the goods come the Country Championships.
"There's a few new guys coming through both the local clubs, not to mention some additional recruits with representative experience and a new captain-coach out in Cobar that we're interested in having a look at.
"That said, nobody's position is safe or guaranteed at this point."
Both Group 11's Indigenous and All Stars teams should be revealed about a week out from their scheduled clash.
Group 11 treasurer Gavin Board said the event will raise an important message about domestic violence, men's and Indigenous health issues.
A number of former Group 11 turned NRL greats, including Dave Peachey, Mark Soden and Russell Richardson will also have a hand in mentoring the two teams ahead of the game.
Former NRL players will also take time out to visit the city's troubled Apollo Estate where they will give away more than 200 hand painted footballs to kids in a bid to cross promote the game and push the healthier lifestyles message, Board said.
"We're encouraging any former Group 11 player who made it to the NRL to get in touch with us and spend the weekend in Dubbo," Board said.
There will be plenty of homegrown rugby league on show throughout the day with an exhibition match between the under-16 Woodbridge Cup and Far West Academy of Sport (FWAS) sides, and a match possibly between Dubbo Souths and PCYC set to take place before the main event kicks off at 6.30pm.
"We're hoping to make it a annual event," Board said.
"We'll see what sort of interest we get from the public this year."