Far North Coast second rower Will Aisake playing for the Dolphins at the NSW Country rugby union championships last year. The championships this year have been cancelled. Photo Vicki Kerry
Far North Coast second rower Will Aisake playing for the Dolphins at the NSW Country rugby union championships last year. The championships this year have been cancelled. Photo Vicki Kerry

Two year plan put on hold for Far North Coast rugby team

TWO years of hard work and planning has been put on hold for the Far North Coast rugby union representative team with the 2020 NSW Country Championships cancelled.

The Dolphins were set to compete for the prestigious Caldwell Cup in the top tier of the competition at Tamworth in June.

Rugby Australia has suspended all activity until at least May with the country championships already cancelled.

FNC qualified into the main draw for the first time since 2011 under coach Paul Jeffery after winning the second tier Richardson Shield last year.

"We finished last in 2018; a group of senior players and some management got together to build a two-year plan," Jeffery said.

"The results weren't good enough for the amount of talent we had in the zone and we ramped things up to make it a more inclusive program."

Jeffery expects to still line up in the top tier of the competition when it returns next year.

He was excited at the teams prospects this year with a strong side committed for 2020.

"Winning the Richardson Shield isn't enough, we wanted to give it a red-hot crack this year and play in the Caldwell Cup final," Jeffery said.

"Looking at the team we had and who was available, we were quietly confident of being a contender this year.

"All things being equal we'll get that opportunity next year; I can't see anything stopping us from promotion."

Six FNC players were part of the NSW Country Cockatoos program last year with five-eighth Ben Damen and centres Vitori Buatava and Alex Gibbon back again.

Second-rowers Will Aisake and Ed McGrath were on the selection radar while Lachlan Creagh and Josh Damen were set to add more strike to the backline this year.

"As soon as we're allowed to we'll have an open day to reassess our goals and set out what we want to achieve," Jeffery said.

"Our first priority will be making sure everyone comes out of this (coronavirus pandemic) okay and provide any support to them we can."



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