Knights and Titans young guns to face-off in Coffs Harbour
NRL players of the future will be in action in Coffs Harbour on Saturday as the Newcastle Knights and Gold Coast Titans junior squads play pre-season trials at Geoff King Motors Park.
The NRL franchises' Under 16 and Under 18 squads will play two matches on Saturday afternoon with games kicking off at 2.30pm and 4pm.
The pre-season trials allow coaching staff to select players for starting team positions in the Harold Matthews and SG Ball competitions in NSW, while allowing talented Queensland-based juniors to press their credentials for professional club contracts.
"We are at the back end of our three-month preseason program for the Junior Training Squad Under 16s and 18s and this game is a reward, where we challenge ourselves against a really good outfit," the Gold Coast Titans' Jamie McCormack said.
"(The Newcastle Knights) are one of the stronger junior development programs that the NRL has, they were undefeated in the Harold Matthews Under 16 competition last year... it will be a good test.
Both club's junior squads are at the tail-end of a hard preseason slog over summer.
"Part of the process in development is to get them prepared to go to that next level so they have to perform just as well in the preseason as to what the NRL boys do and get accustomed to knowing this is what happens this time of the year, every year, if you want to become a professional footballer," McCormack said.
"We will review our players on the standards that they are delivering and we will educate them on how to become better,
"The travel component, the preparation, the hydration all those small elements go into performing well on the football field so we are drubbing that into the boys at the moment."
Coffs Harbour Comets President Steve Gooley welcomed local footy fans to turn out for the first game of the season in Coffs Harbour at Geoff King Motors Park.
"These are the best juniors going around in the Gold Coast and Newcastle/Hunter Valley, and some of the boys will go onto NRL careers," Gooley said.
Local clubs including the Comets are confirming their squads ahead of the Group 2 season.
"After this match on Saturday, the club will the shift the focus to February 22, for the Hoey Moey Tooheys Coffs Coast Nines, which will run for the seventh year," Gooley said.
"The Nines tournament attracts Opens, Women's league tag and Under 18s teams from right across the country."
Last season, 30 teams travelled for the Coffs Coast Nines, with four grounds in action over the weekend.