WATCH: NRL superstars get behind Group 2 juniors
GROUP 2 junior rugby league grand finals head to Woolgoolga on Saturday and the Seahorses will be riding a high after a number of NRL stars got behind them this week.
Hosting grand final day for the first time in five years, Woolgoolga's under-11 side will be the sole representative but with the backing of NRL players including Chad Townsend, Cody Walker and Greg Inglis, they could be tough to beat.
With the help of Luke at Phresh Graphix, messages started flooding in to the Woolgoolga Junior Seahorses on Monday.
Messages were aimed at talented junior Marley Marr and his under-11 teammates and club president Inderveer Singh said it was unlike anything he'd ever seen before.
"The encouragement has been great. I've never seen another club get encouragement like that," Singh said.
"Just two days away from grand finals on Saturday and four NRL superstars come to us and put messages out there, it's fantastic.
"Other clubs might be quite envious of the special treatment, but we've got people at the club who wanted to get shoutouts from NRL players."
Singh said it is a great way to connect the kids with the best in the game and show that they too can make it if they put in the work.
"It shows the pathway is there, it's awesome to see. I played league for Woopi juniors and seniors and I don't think ever had anyone that high profile encouraging us, let alone four messages in a week. We're pretty stoked about that."
Five Coffs Coast clubs will compete across seven grand finals in Woolgoolga on Saturday and Singh said it had been a long time coming.
"The last one was five or six years ago - before my time. We've been waiting patiently for this and it's been a process in the works with all other clubs in Group 2 for some time," he said.
"The juniors been really important for us, particularly with no senior footy. It gives the kids something to do and they bond with their teammates."
Singh said it had been one of the club's strongest years for numbers, boasting growth during the toughest of times.
"It's been one of our best years for junior numbers for a very long time. We've gone from 130 players last year to 165 this season," he said.
"It's been a tough year for everyone but they've been a real shining light. The kids out there really want to play greatest game of all, rugby league.
"We're laying a platform for the grassroots. League brigs a lot of things together and as a club we're really growing for the future."
While just one Seahorses side will contest the big dance, Singh was pleased to see as many as five compete in the finals this season.
"The under-11s made grand final but we're very, very happy with way the other sides went this season. We had five of seven playing finals footy," he said.
"For a club like ours that's really outstanding. There's a lot of new players in the teams. We're going in the right direction."
After hosting the preliminary finals, Bowraville will play in four grand finals, while Sawtell Panthers and Coffs Harbour Comets compete in two apiece.
"Bowraville is a very strong club but it's good to see the finals spots shared around all the strong clubs out there," he said.
"The competition overall has been very fierce, but some good entertaining footy. The kids have all played really well and we're excited to host the deciders on Saturday."
Group 2 Junior Rugby League Grand Final Program
Woolgoolga Sports Ground, Saturday September 19, 2020
Under-10s: Bowraville Vs Smithtown 9am
Under-11s: Bowraville vs Woolgoolga 9:58am
Under-12s: Bowraville vs Sawtell 10:56am
Under-13s: Bowraville vs Sawtell 11:54am
Under-14s: Kempsey vs Smithtown 1pm
Girls League Tag: Kempsey vs Coffs Harbour 2:06pm
Welcome to Country and National Anthem 3:10pm
Under-15s: Coffs Harbour vs Smithtown 3:25pm