Bill?s testing time
By STEVE SPINKS
FORMER Wollongbar rugby union player Bill Johnston will have a nervous weekend as he attends the final selection camp for the Australian Under-19 team starting at Narrabeen today.
Johnston, a hooker, has made the final 38, but following the training camp a squad of 26 will be selected to contest the International Rugby Board's Under-19 Championship in Durban, South Africa, in April.
The players will be put through a battery of physical testing today, before playing a trial match on Sunday.
Johnston, as a thrower to the line-out, will be put under the microscope when former Wallaby second-rower David Giffin takes the forwards for an intense lineout session tomorrow afternoon.
There are three hookers in the squad of 38. That number will be cut to two for the championship.
Johnston played all his junior rugby with the Pioneers before making his first- grade debut as a 16-year-old in 2003.
After completing his schooling at Alstonville High last year, the nuggety hooker linked with the Gold Coast, which plays in the Brisbane first-grade competition.
Johnston was included in the Under-19 squad after standing out for NSW Combined High Schools last season.
Although selected in the NSW CHS seconds, Johnston impressed at the Australian Championships and forced his way into the Australia A team, which is the second Australian schoolboys' side.
Former Wollongbar team-mate Ben Johnston was in an enlarged squad for the Australian Under-19s but missed out on further selection because of injury.
The Australian Under-19 team is coached by former Eastwood first-grade five-eighth Scott Wisemantel.