Junior Redmen plan big for 2006 season
By DAVE MORRISON
Grafton Rugby Club
AN end-of-season trip to New Zealand and the hosting of the Country NSW Under-14 and Under-15 titles in May highlight an ambitious 2006 season for Grafton Junior Rugby, discussed at the club's recent annual general meeting.
Junior Redmen president Michael Brookes re-elected at the well attended recent Meeting, announced these exciting plans for 2006 with the tour to New Zealand and the Country Titles the main talking points as planning for the 2006 season got underway.
Brookes said, "junior rugby is growing at a fast rate and the Redmen need to keep moving forward to keep pace with that growth.
"Taking three teams to New Zealand, at this stage set for September for Under13s, -15s and -17s will be a real highlight and will open these young players eyes to the international scope of the game.
"Hosting the Country Titles in May is a huge task, but is a show of confidence from Country and Far North Coast Rugby in the Junior Redmen.
"It is also a reward for the improved facilities at the ground."
Redmen junior coaching co-ordinator Paul McLennan said that the Country Titles are a huge affair, with up to 27 teams competing in the two age divisions over the first weekend in May, 2006.
"Aside from raising the profile of rugby locally, having the titles in the local area will open the door for talented locals to press for selection in country sides, a stepping stone for higher honours previously taking by players such as AJ Whalley, now contracted to Perth's Western Force Super 14 side."
The Junior Redmen have taken sides to New Zealand in the past and these trips have been enormously successful.
McLennan indicated that early planning at this stage was for three sides to travel at the end of the season, in the September school holidays, with the traditional rugby stronghold of the South Island as the destination.
Games are scheduled in Christchurch and Dunedin, and a training session with the Crusader's franchise at the famous 'House of Pain', Carrisbrook.
Sight seeing at Queenstown is also on an intinery that McLennan hopes to finalise in the coming week.
"The whole purpose is to introduce young Grafton players to what rugby can offer," McLennan said.
With Cody Hearfield having just signed with Sydney's powerful Warringah Club, following in the footsteps of Whalley, it is hoped that the trip will provide the start of more promising careers in the future.