Zone seeks an edge

IT’S a new line-up to start a new Far North Coast rugby union zone concept in the lead-up to kicking off next year’s NSW Country Championship on a far brighter note.

And it’s all starting in 24 days when a reshuffled coaching panel casts its eyes over a hopeful 35-man train-on squad before its first trial match as a curtain-raiser to the Waratahs and Queensland Reds’ Super 14 game in Lismore on January 23.

The new coaching staff laid its cards on the table for the first time yesterday, with the trump being the proposed trial against the Gold Coast Breakers development squad at Oakes Oval.

The match against the Queensland Premier Rugby side is only awaiting final confirmation but the hand being shown by Far North Coast officials is already shaping up as a winner.

Far North Coast Rugby Union yesterday named Southern Cross University coach John Jenkins and former Wollongbar coach David Graham as their head and assistant zone coaches, with former Lennox Head club president Dave Arthur rounding off the team as manager.

But according to Graham, the team plan is going a lot deeper this year than before.

“It’s more than just a management and coaching staff supporting the players,” Graham said.

“We have a physiotherapist, a well-credentialled exercise physiologist and a strong line-up of sports administrators coming onboard.

“We all have the one common aim come March, that of being more successful in the country championship than we have in recent years.

“It’s a test we’re going to have to meet very early, in fact; our opening game is against last year’s championship winners, the Hunter Valley.”

The first line-up of zone players will assemble at a training camp at the Lake Ainsworth Sport and Recreation Centre in Lennox Head on December 5 and will eventually be reduced to a squad of 25.

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