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The brightest up and coming talent in Regional NSW will come together today as the NSW Country under-16 and 18 sides assemble for their tour of New Zealand’s South Island.

The players, selected from the 2017 under-16/18 Country Championships, will be looking to uphold a proud tradition of strong Country performances over the past few seasons; with Country sides winning seven of their past eight matches against opponents including Western Australia, Auckland Rugby League and the Samoan Residents.

Country U18’s Coach Aaron Watts admitted he was excited to take charge of what he believes is a very talented squad.

“I’m really looking forward to the tour,” said Watts.

“There were some exceptional performances throughout the Country Championships and we have a good spread of players from across Regional New South Wales in both sides.

“It’s a great opportunity for these players to not only represent Country and play a higher level of representative football, but for many of them it’s their first time outside of New South Wales so it’s a wonderful experience for those involved.”

Being selected for the Country U18’s has proven to be quite fruitful for young players over the past two seasons, with 50% of players signed by NRL clubs and playing SG Ball or under-20’s the following season.

Country U16’s Coach Gary Jones believes the opportunity to represent Country whilst touring overseas is an invaluable experience for the development of those selected.

“I was fortunate enough to be involved with the Country U16’s when they toured Samoa last year and it was great to see how the young men responded to the challenge of playing and touring in a foreign environment,” said Jones.

“It’s a great opportunity for players to get outside the comfort zone of their hometowns, meet new people and develop their skills both on and off the field.

“I’m really looking to working with these young guys and moulding them into a team that Country Rugby League can be proud of, as well as taking on the challenge of playing New Zealand based sides in their own backyard.”

The Country under-16 and 18’s will play two matches each whilst on tour, taking on West Coast Rugby League on Tuesday, 4th July and Canterbury Rugby League on Saturday, 8th July

Country U16’s
1. Benjamin Glasheen – Western Rams / Parkes Marist
2. Thomas Jenkins – Bidgee Bulls / Young
3. Lachlan Williams – East Coast Dolphins / Taree Red Rovers
4. Blake Wood – Bidgee Bulls / Yenda
5. Clive Haselhuhn – Gtr. Southern Redbacks / Thirroul
6. Lachlan O’Brien – Newcastle Rebels / Cessnock
7. Kade Hill – East Coast Dolphins / Murwillumbah
8. Zac Jones – Newcastle Rebels / Raymond Terrace
9. Campbell Woolnough – Western Rams / Red Bend
10. Jordan Taualii – East Coast Dolphins / Tweed Seagulls
11. Nic Barlow – Western Rams / Bathurst Panthers
12. Ryan Weatherall – Newcastle Rebels / Western Suburbs
13. Ulysses Roberts – East Coast Dolphins / Bowraville
14. Jeremy Wiscombe – Bidgee Bulls / Albury
15. Ben Liyou – East Coast Dolphins / Grafton
16. Baylee Walker – Newcastle Rebels / Wallsend Maryland
17. Reagan Harris – East Coast Dolphins / Sawtell
18. Thomas Vickery – East Coast Dolphins / Murwillumbah
Coach: Gary Jones

Country U18’s
1. Charlie Staines – Western Rams / Forbes Magpies
2. Jye Bieman-King – Newcastle Rebels / West Maitland
3. Kyle Shepherdson – Gtr. Southern Stingrays / Merimbula-Pambula
4. Max Altus – Greater Northern / North Tamworth
5. Matt Parsons – Gtr. Southern Stingrays / Narooma
6. Matt Burton – Western Rams / Dubbo CYMS
7. Cameron Davies – Central Coast / Erina
8. Riley Cheshire – Western Rams / Bathurst St. Pats
9. Cody Bryant – Newcastle Rebels / Central Newcastle
10. Sam Jones – Newcastle Rebels / West Maitland
11. Darby Medlyn – Western Rams / Parkes Spacemen
12. Luke Gale – Western Rams / Dubbo Macquarie
13. Joe Bromage – Newcastle Rebels / Cessnock
14. Matthew Moon – Gtr. Southern Stingrays / Merimbula-Pambula
15. Luke McBeath – Bidgee Bulls / Southcity Bulls
16. Tyson Hodge – Bidgee Bulls / Southcity Bulls
17. Joseph Hobby – Western Rams / Blayney Bears
18. Jaiden Burke – Western Rams / Forbes Magpies
Coach: Aaron Watts