Westfields Sports High will kick off their 2014 GIO Schoolboys Cup assault this Wednesday afternoon at 2:30pm (June 11th), when they take on Hunter Sports High in the second game of a triple-header at Campbelltown Stadium.
Despite entering the game with a fairly inexperienced side, Hunter Sports head coach Justin Stewart believes his side will still be very competitive against a quality opposition like Westfields.
“We only have two 18 year olds who are playing on Wednesday, so it’s a fairly young side… but we are quite competitive and strong,” said Stewart.
“As a school, we have 13 kids who played in the Newcastle Knights Harold Matthews side this year that won the national final, so we will have all those kids come through in the next couple of years.”
Naming such a young side, Stewart said that he will stress the importance of playing a simple brand of football on Wednesday, making sure his side does the basic things right.
“We just want to make sure we keep everything simple and make sure we have a high completion rate and try and minimise the amount of ball that (Westfields) get because they are such a big side.”
While Hunter Sports may have a number of new faces in their lineup, Justin Stewart says that his side has several exciting players that will be on show on Wednesday, including young fullback Ngangarra Barker, and 16 year old Nicholas O’Meley, son of former NRL Premiership winner Mark O’Meley.
Meanwhile, Westfields Sports High coach Wayne Lambkin is happy with the way his side has prepared in the lead up to the GIO Cup, saying that while they do have a couple of injuries, his team is still quite strong.
“Like all schoolboy age groups, we have our injuries. We are just a couple of players off having our best side on the field,” said Lambkin.
“We have played a couple of University Shield games and we won, so we are in a pretty good place.”
Just like Hunter Sports head coach Justin Stewart, Lambkin wants his side to concentrate on the basics such as completing sets, ball control, and starving the opposition of possession.
With numerous SG Ball representative players including halfback Jason Vidal and front rower Cameron King in their squad, Westfield Sports could prove to be a tough opposition for Hunter Sports.
St Gregory’s College v The Hills Sports High
Hills Sports High School will kick-off their 2014 GIO Schoolboys Cup season this Wednesday (11 June) at Campbelltown Stadium, when they take on first round winners St Gregory’s College from 4pm.
Despite starting their GIO Cup campaign with a 22-18 win over Illawarra Sports High three weeks ago, St Greg’s head coach Pat Newell knows that his side needs to lift if they are any chance of coming away with the two points this Wednesday.
St Greg’s were immediately on the back foot against Illawarra Sports, giving away four penalties in the opening twenty minutes, allowing their opponents to run in two quick tries.
“Our discipline was really poor (against Illawarra Sports). We gave away eight penalties to five,” said head coach Pat Newell.
“We put ourselves under pressure with our poor discipline. Our ball control wasn’t helpful either, so they have been the two areas we have really focused on, to minimise the penalties against us and also pick the right time to be expansive”.
While St Greg’s have had the opportunity to play in the Metropolitan Catholic Schools (MCS) tournament since their game against Illawarra Sports, Newell said that he didn’t get an opportunity to play the side he would have liked in preparation for the game against Hills Sports.
“We have had a bit of a mixed preparation with our MCS commitments,” said Newell.
“We play under a points system in that competition, (so) I haven’t been able to play my top side as often as I probably would have liked. Some boys haven’t played in this side since we played Illawarra Sports a few weeks back now, so it’s hasn’t been ideal,” said Newell.
“The boys have trained really well though so we have done all we can to be prepared to the degree in which we wish to be.”
While St Greg’s have had the benefit of having three weeks to nut out any issues from their first match, Wednesdays game will be Hills Sports first of the new GIO Cup season.
After starting last years GIO Cup with a number of injuries, Hills Sports head coach Scott Jones is excited at the prospect of start the 2014 season with a healthy squad.
“We are looking really well. We have a full fit squad so most boys will be on deck,” said Scott Jones.
“We had pretty good luck in the CHS (Combined High Schools) Championships to be honest. The boys came through basically unscathed. In the past, we have had a couple of injuries that have hurt us in the GIO Cup.”
Going up against a quality opposition like St Greg’s, who boast a number of representative players in their lineup, Jones knows that if his side is to come away with the two points, defence will be the key.
“We will just be focused on (defence). Defence is a massive thing,” said Jones.
“You can’t win games if you can’t defend points. We just need to defend well and trust each other. . . I know we can score points, so if we can defend points, we will give ourselves every chance of winning the game.”
While Hills Sports will be met with a very vocal supporter base like St Greg’s, Jones says that all his side needs to do is worry about themselves.
“We just need to concentrate on ourselves. We don’t need to worry too much about the opposition teams,” said the second year head coach.
“I’m big on pushing to the kids that every game of rugby league is just another game of rugby league, whether it be a trial match or a grand final. I try and get the kids to prepare the same way before every game.”
While Jones says that his whole side is really coming along nicely ahead of the season opener, their captain and Parramatta SG Ball Player of the Year Tom Amone has been a standout.
“He is a real leader and has just gone from strength to strength, and I mean that on the training field as well as the game.”
“He has been training the house down, and he’s in the best form I have ever seen him in.”