Country Brothers

By STEVE SPINKS

A HUGE roar erupted at the Gollan Hotel in Lismore last night.

It wasn't because Marist Brothers were celebrating their 28-0 victory over arch rivals Ballina in the Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League.

The huge roar was for two former Marist Brothers players, Amos Roberts and Matt King, who were selected in the NSW Country squad to play City at Oakes Oval, Lismore, on Friday night.

"When the team (Country) came up on the television there was a huge roar," Marist Brothers president Steve Campbell said.

"We'll claim both of them."

Although both played with the Brethren, neither Roberts nor King call Lismore home.

King was raised at Casino, but played his senior football with Marist Brothers before pursuing a career in the National Rugby League.

Roberts was raised at Kempsey but attended St John's College, Woodlawn, as a boarder for three years.

In his later schooling days, Roberts played Under-18s with Brothers and came off the bench in first grade a number of times.

It is the second time King and Roberts have won selection in the Country team.

Both represented the Bushies at Gosford last year.

Local connections aside, most of the talk surrounding the teams will focus on a number of contentious selections.

Trent Barrett has been named at halfback for Country, with Melbourne's Scott Hill the five-eighth.

Barrett held out the hotly tipped Manly halfback Michael Monaghan.

The only other real contender for the Country halfback spot was St George Illawarra's Matthew Head, but he was injured in the Dragons' victory over Wests Tigers yesterday.

Melbourne's Matt Orford was selected as halfback for City despite being raised on the Central Coast.

With Orford selected in the No7 jersey, Penrith's Craig Gower has been named at hooker.

Meanwhile, Northern Rivers divisional selectors have held off naming their open team for the Friday curtain-raiser against Northern Division in the NSW Country Championships after a number of players were injured at the weekend.

A selection meeting will be held tonight to pick a final team.

There's been no such worries for Northern Rivers Under-18 coach Wayne Cullen.

He's named a strong squad including a number of players who starred in first grade over the weekend.

COUNTRY ORIGIN: Ben Hornby (St George Illawarra) Amos Roberts (Sydney Roosters) Matt King (Melbourne) Matt Cooper (St George Illawarra) Timana Tahu (Parramatta) Scott Hill (Melbourne) Trent Barrett (St George Illawarra) Glenn Morrison (Parramatta) Andrew Ryan (Bulldogs) Steve Simpson (Newcastle) Luke Bailey (St George Illawarra) Danny Buderus (capt, Newcastle) Jason Ryles (St George Illawarra). Interchange: Ben Creagh (St George Illawarra) Brent Kite (Manly) Anthony Tupou (Sydney Roosters) Preston Campbell (Penrith).

CITY ORIGIN: Brett Hodgson (Wests Tigers) Luke Lewis (Penrith) Mark Gasnier (St George Illawarra) Ryan Cross (Sydney Roosters) Eric Grothe (Parramatta) Braith Anasta (Bulldogs) Matt Orford (Melbourne) Joel Clinton (Penrith) Craig Gower (capt, Penrith) Jason Stevens (Cronulla) Anthony Watmough (Manly) Luke O'Donnell (North Queensland) Steve Menzies (Manly). Interchange: Reni Maitua (Bulldogs) John Skandalis (Wests Tigers) Mark Riddell (Parramatta) Jason King (Manly).

NORTHERN RIVERS UNDER-18s: Fullback, Shannon Walker (Kyogle); wingers, Michael Koffman (Seagulls), Tom Court (Ballina); centres, Michael Keating (Seagulls), Clarence Kelly (Ballina); five-eighth, Dane Evans (Seagulls); halfback, Ben Crawford (Ballina); props, James Rix (Ballina), Dean French (Ballina); hooker, Harry Witt (Brothers); second-rowers, Mitch Aubusson (Ballina), Brody Williams (Seagulls); lock, Will Matthews (Kyogle). Interchange: Sam Panting (Murwillumbah), Dave Beauman (Seagulls), Nick Forrester (Murwillumbah), Sam Conlan (Seagulls). Coach: Wayne Cullen.



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