NSW Cockatoos call for plateau player Ben Damen
WOLLONGBAR-Alstonville five-eighth Ben Damen has been named in the starting side for the NSW Country Cockatoos first game of the representative rugby union season this weekend.
The Cockatoos will take on the Australian Under-20 rugby union team at Chatswood Oval in Sydney on Saturday.
Eleven new players have been named in the team in what will be the hardest of the four games they will play.
"They'll be a tough side and I'm sure some of them will go on to play for the Wallabies," Damen said.
"It's always great to be trusted to wear the No 10 jersey against a quality team.
"I think the structures the coach has put in place will really suit my style of play."
There will be some familiar opposition with former Far North Coast players Joey Fittock and Izack Rodda part of the Under-20s team.
They will head to England next month for the World Rugby Under-20 Championship.
The Cockatoos team were in Sydney last weekend with the 23-man team selected off the back of that training camp.
Wollongbar-Alstonville teammate Jerry Faifaise made the trip down with Damen but was not picked for this game.
They were both selected in the initial 34-man squad after playing for FNC at the NSW Country Championships at Armidale earlier this month.
"The players in the team, both new and old, all earned their spots following strong performances at the Country Championships and the training camp," coach Mat Thomas said.
"It was pleasing to see that a number of the players in the Cockatoos had progressed through the Country Junior and Colts representative ranks, which shows the representative pathway via Country Rugby."