Central North's best and brightest young female rugby talent impressed at the Country junior girls championships at Kiama on the weekend with all three sides performing strongly and a number of players earning Country selection.
In what was a great start to the representative season for the Kookaburras, the under-18s finished second, the under-16s third and the under-14s fourth. Topping that off, 18 players were selected to wear the black and gold later in the year.
The under-18s will have the biggest representation with Caitlyn Etheridge, Wilmie Van Schalkwyk, Martha Harvey, Anastasia Martin, Charlotte Eather, Brooke McKinnon, Georgia Moore, Paige Anderson and Eliza O'Donnell all catching selectors eyes.
Moore and Harvey's selection came after they were named the best forward and back, respectively, for the tournament.
They weren't the only players to be recognised as the best performer over the weekend with Liliana Reardon winning the best back award for the under-16s. Her efforts also saw her selected for Country duties along with Kookaburras team-mates Candyce Duckett, Leilani Tevaga, Holly Ford and Zoe Eather.
Joining them in Country colours will be under-14s quartet Faith Green, Emily Dietrich, Bonnii Porter, and Dempsey Manwarring.
Under-18s head coach Denis Harvey said he and coaching counterparts David Nichols and Matt Jones couldn't have been prouder of the girls and the way they performed.
"The team played just fantastic," Harvey said.
The coaching team had gone in confident of the sides ability.
"When we saw the team we put together we were very confident," he said.
"The only thing stopping them was gelling and trusting each other."
But they came together well, Harvey noting the "good team culture".
Playing 10 games over the two days, they finished with five wins, three draws, all of which were 0-all, and two losses.
"The girls' defence was just unreal," Harvey said.
"We only had four tries scored against us over the 10 games."
The work of the tight five was another strong facet.
That was "where it all started".
"The reason we did so well was our tight five," he said.
"At this level the team with the best tight five is dominant."
Moore was a standout playing openside flanker.
"She was just dominant and would have been one of the first picked," Harvey said.
"She was just fierce."
Meanwhile usually an outside back, Martha (Harvey) "played very well" at half-back.
Halves partner McKinnon also had "an absolute whale of a tournament", while captain Van Schalkwyk was strong on the Saturday, with injury confining her to the sidelines on Sunday.
In her absence Harvey said Anderson really stood up and led the team well to cap off a wonderful tournament.
As a result of their strong performance the side will now turn their attention towards the State Championships on the June long weekend.
"We were going to see how we went," Harvey said.
The Country championships run continues this weekend with Armidale hosting the boys under-15's, 16's and 18's.
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