Valley's wizards of Oztag
By TONY WHITE
TEN Grafton-based players have been selected to take part in the Australian Oztag titles at Carara, on the Gold Coast, this weekend.
Six women and four men will represent Northern NSW teams in the titles involving 57 teams from around Australia from April 22 to 25.
Kathy Warby, Dani Cogle, Erin Gallagher, Aleisha Burchell, Emma Marcus and Katlyn Davies have been selected in the Northern NSW open women's team and Phil Warby, Warwick Brown, John Carney and Luke Whitton in the men's Over-30s team.
The players have been training regularly on Sundays since the teams were selected following trials in Lismore and Ballina earlier this year that involved 25 Grafton players.
Two years ago the Northern NSW team, containing several Grafton players, surprised all and sundry by winning the national title.
"Both teams are hoping to do well and I think we'll go all right," Luke Whitton said.
"The men's team is very quick. Warwick Brown is probably the quickest rugby league player in Grafton, Phil Warby is no slouch and John Carney moves well too."
Oztag was started in Grafton around a decade back and has gained popularity in recent years.
Unlike touch football, Oztag is more closely aligned with rugby league rules as players are allowed to kick the football and have to grab one of two velcro attached tags to complete a 'tackle'.
There are eight players a side with up to six reserves and the game played in 20-minute halves.
"There are 31 teams, including mixed, in the domestic competition which was won by MG Renovations this year," Whitton said.
"Many of the Northern NSW players are from the Village Green team. A lot of them went up to the Pan Pacific Masters Titles on the Gold Coast."
The men's team have drawn a tough 10-team pool in their division.
On Friday (April 22) they play Sydney Tigers and Sydney Stingrays, the current Australian title holders.
Saturday sees Northern NSW clash with North Brisbane and Central Coast Bulls.
Results from the pool matches will decide the semi-finalists and plate play-offs.