New ball game for Far North Coast
PREPARATIONS for the NSW Country rugby union championships will ramp up next week with Far North Coast keen to be among the winners after a disappointing 2009 campaign.
The team has a new coach, John Jenkins, and new support staff, who are urging Far North Coast to put last year’s result behind them and start with a clean slate in 2010.
“I don’t want to reflect on the past, I am not interested in that, this is a whole new ball game,” Jenkins said.
“I just want to get the best players in the side and develop a program that will keep them interested in representative rugby.”
Forty players are still in contention to represent their region and while last year’s grand finalists Lennox Head and Lismore City make up almost half the squad, every local team still has at least one player in with a shot.
Jenkins is certain he has the quality of stock to improve on recent years’ results, which have obviously been sub-par.
“I think everyone involved has been pretty disappointed with the past few years,” he said
“There is a lot of talent in the region; I think some of the blokes here undersell themselves a bit.
“If they put a bit more energy and enthusiasm into their rugby we can give teams a shake.”
Far North Coast will take on the Gold Coast Breakers in its first trial, which will double as thecurtain-raiser to the NSW Waratahs v Queensland Reds Super 14 trial at Oakes Oval, Lismore, on January 23.
Coach Jenkins will then get a second look at his side when they take on Brisbane Norths in Brisbane, with a match against the Philippines national team also in the pipeline.
Jenkins will need to have his first XV at full throttle by then; the side opens its Country championship campaign by taking on defending champions Newcastle Hunter at Nelson Bay on March 20.
That fixture is a qualifying match with the winner going into the top half of the draw to play for the Caldwell Cup and the title, while the loser will be relegated to the bottom half of the draw to contest the Richardson Shield.