The 2019 Country Rugby League Representative Season kicks off this coming weekend and a number of young Forbes players will be pulling on their boots for the Western Rams Under 16s and Under 18s.
Red Bend’s Matt Noakes, Sam Raumati and Jesse Shorter have been named in the 16s team, heading to Lithgow on February 16 for the first round of the Andrew Johns Cup.
Jack Hartwig, who led the premiership winning Under 16s side in 2018, and Campbell Woolnough have been selected for this year’s Under 18s side.
They also begin their campaign for the Laurie Daley Cup this weekend.
There are 12 teams in each division, with the competition taking shape over seven weeks.
Tony Woolnough has taken over the reins of the under 16s Rams from the hugely successful Kurt Hancock, who moves up to coach the under 18s Western team.
Western’s under 16s won the 2018 Johns Cup but not one of those players is back for the defence. Woolnough will work with a whole new squad in 2019.
Woolnough is banking on the best players in the west joining forces to become the best team in the bush.
He confirmed his 19-man squad to contest this year’s country championship and is confident in the group of players he has to work with this season.
“There were a few kids that put their hands up during the trials and did really well, but I don’t think it’s about individuals at this level,” he said.
“It’s more about working as a team. If we can do that then we’ll get the job done.”
Western trialed against their round one opponents Penrith at Oberon last Saturday and Woolnough says there’s plenty to work on ahead of the rematch at Lithgow.
“Our completions in that game were well down. I’m very confident we can rectify that and put up a good challenge,” he said.
“It is a long pre-season though ... there’s definitely not an off season for these boys. We’ve been going since October.
“It’s getting close now though and we’re all excited.”
The Western Rams sides meet Penrith Panthers at Tony Luchetti Sportsground in Lithgow this Saturday.
Under 16s kick off at 4.45 pm. Under 18s get underway at 6.05pm.
Matches are also live streamed on CRL’s Facebook page.