Central North is set to blood a host of debutants in their Richardson Shield tilt.
The preliminary squad named to train at Gunnedah this Sunday ahead of next month's Country Championships in Tamworth features a number of new faces with only six players backing up from the side that went down to Far North Coast in the final two years ago.
Pirates' Jake Douglas and Walcha's Pat Keen have also both pulled on the white and red before while Navi Tiko (Pirates) has previously played with New England.
But for the rest, the June 12-13 tournament will be a new experience.
Pirates co-coach Mick Squires has stepped up to the zone job and admits it has been a bit of a frustrating process, the persistent problem of a lack of interest not being helped by the absence of a rep program last year.
But he said zone president Paul King and rep coordinator Daniel Kahl have done a good job trying to get people involved.
Seven of the nine clubs are represented in what is a bit of a squad for the future with a "really good group of young guys in there".
Squires mentioned the likes of Quirindi breakaway Angus McKenzie, who he thought was "very impressive" against his Pirates side on Saturday, young Pirates prop Michael Purtle and Barraba's Mitch Mack.
"You want these guys playing Central North for the next six, seven, eight years," he said.
"We're very confident they can handle the footy so why not give them a go."
The Kookaburras will compete against Mid North Coast, Western Plains and New England for the silverware.
Squires will be keeping a close eye on things over the next couple of round with still a couple of spots to be filled.
Kookaburras women's coach Jeremy Maslen has the opposite problem - too many players. He had 46 hopefuls roll up to Sunday's trial/training day.
It made for a tough job narrowing it down to 25.
"There was a lot of talented girls so it was really hard to cut down to 25," he said.
The Kookaburras have been strengthened by a handful of players from New England, while Claudia Nielsen has also been given clearance to play.
She will be a big in with her 15s background. That was where her rugby journey started, playing for Rugby WA in the Super W competition. Last year she was also selected to play for Country.
"I think we'll be quite strong," Maslen said.
The challenge will be adjusting from the 7s they are accustomed to to the 15-man game.
"Yesterday we spent about four hours trying to cram a whole season into four hours," Maslen said.
"We worked on a lot of scrummaging and lineouts. With 7s there's only three ladies in the scrum."
They will train again on Sunday June 5 at Pirates and then again on the Friday night before the championships.
CENTRAL NORTH SQUADS
Men's squad: Forwards - Michael Purtle (Pirates), Andrew Collins (Pirates), Mac Latabua (Moree), Henry Leslie (Walcha), Richie Hunt (Walcha), Daniel Kahl (Narrabri), Lachlan Holz (Walcha), Jake Douglas (Pirates), Seva Nadruku (Moree), Angus McKenzie (Quirindi), Mitch Mack (Barraba), Nick Sweeney (Barraba), Jona Saumaisue (Moree); Backs - Steven Leuta (Gunnedah), Leti Vatunidruku (Moree), Jamie Sampson (Moree), Pat Keen (Walcha), Navi Tiko (Pirates), Joe Henderson (Moree), Oli Wright (Pirates), Mitch Adams (Moree), Josh Walker (Moree), Wes Rooney (Pirates). Coach: Mick Squires, manager: Paul King.
Women's squad: Brianna Mack (Barraba), Claudia Neilson (Tamworth Pirates), Rebecca Smyth (Gunnedah), Rosie Ferguson (Tamworth Pirates), Georgia O'Neille (St Alberts College), Katelyn Hall (St Alberts College), Charlotte Goldman (St Alberts College), Kirsty McArthur (Gunnedah), KaraLaini Nadruku (Gunnedah), Simone Lickorish (Gunnedah), Clare Harpley (St Alberts College), Shae Partridge (Tamworth Pirates), Megan Groenewald (St Alberts College), Tahlia Morgan (St Alberts College), Torika Nadruku (Gunnedah), Alanna Dunne (Armidale Barbarians), Amie Middlemiss (Barraba), Jillian Mooney (Tamworth Pirates), Alexandra Long (Gunnedah), Bridgette Madigan (St Alberts College), Josie Coddington (Armidale Blues), Kate O'Donnell (Gunnedah), Nicola Robinson (Tamworth Pirates), Lara De Jong (Tamworth Pirates), Stephie Lennon (Gunnedah). Coach: Jeremy Maslen, assistant coaches: Lincoln Stewart/Matt Hannay, manager: Lou Wilson.
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