PLAYERS from the Grafton Ghosts and fledgling Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League side Northern United have dominated the Northern NSW Thunderbolts representative squad selected to contest the NSW Country Championships in Lismore in May.
Ryan Farrell (halfback, pictured), Aaron Hartmann (centre), Dan Roberts (second-row), Nat Sewell (prop) and Ben McLennan (utility) were the five Grafton players selected.
Grafton were beaten in last year's grand final by Byron Bay.
Although Northern United is yet to play a first grade NRRRL game, they have six players named in the squad.
The Thunderbolts squad was selected after the Northern Rivers open side travelled to Glen Innes last weekend for two trial games against the Group 19 representative team.
Although Northern Rivers won both matches, selectors weren't so much worried about the final scores, but with picking the right combinations. Northern Rivers and Grafton Ghosts coach Col Speed, who was not among the selectors, was not surprised that two NRRRL teams dominated so much at the selection table.
“They are looking pretty hard at the next couple of weeks and they want to prepare good halves and centres combinations that have played together in that area,” he said.
“They have picked a good, balanced side which has youth, speed and experience. A number of those players also have experience of playing down in Newcastle and Sydney, so I think they'll do well.”
The squad will train in Grafton this weekend at Frank McGuren Park. Meanwhile, no Clarence Valley players were selected in the under-18 squad.
Men's squad: Jeff Richardson, Luke Hutton and Rod Bull (Guyra); Mitch Cooper (Armidale); Brad Purtell (Murwillumbah); Clint Horne (Kyogle); Johnathon Freeman (Ballina); Roy Bell, Clarence Kelly, Mick Moran, Willie Hammond, Alwyn Roberts, Chris Swan (Northern United); Aaron Hartmann, Ryan Farrell, Nat Sewell, Daniel Roberts and Ben McLennan (Grafton Ghosts).
Under-18s squad: Devon Mitchell and Trent Richardson (Mullumbimby); Ross Lewis (Glen Innes); Jayden Kelly and Steve Bayukin (South Tweed); Blake Anderson (Kyogle); Aden Duffy (Murwillumbah); Paul Carter (Marist Brothers); Tim Green (Northern United); Jessy Shaw, Col Higinbottom, Jason Tutt (Cudgen); Chris Lewis (Inverell); Jamie Donaldson (Tweed Coast Raiders); Ed Murphy (Casino); Jason Clarke, Paul O'Neill, Jirra Breckenridge (Ballina) and Alex Lavender (Inverell).