Rugby team is turning heads
EXPECT to see a handful of Far North Coast players selected in the NSW Country rugby union team this week after they brought home the Rich-ardson Shield from their trip to Tamworth.
FNC were dominant with a 48-8 win over New England before thumping Central North 53-28 in the final of the second-tier competition.
It was the first time the Dolphins had won the shield since 2010 and it puts them back in the top tier to compete for the Caldwell Cup next year.
"Winning turns a few extra heads and I know they're looking at at least seven of our blokes,” FNC coach Paul Jeffery said.
"It's great for so many to be in the conversation and, no matter, they go back to club rugby better players.
"Everyone in the team knew what we were there to do and it was pleasing to sit back and see it all come off.
"Planning a rep program in the middle of the year wasn't easy as a coach but the players all bought into it and were determined to get the result.
"They all came off with a smile on their face and they played some quality rugby.”
Second-rowers Will Aisake and Ed McGrath were standouts in the forwards while wingers Kyle Hancock and James Vidler scored four tries each.
Five-eighth and captain Ben Damen has played for NSW Country six times and should be there again.
Wollongbar-Alstonville centre Alex Gibbon represented FNC for the first time at senior level and would also be hard to overlook.
He grew up playing for the Pioneers before going on to Shute Shield in Sydney and the Australian sevens team.
Casuarina had four in the new-look team and Grafton three with the rest from Ballina, Byron Bay and Wollongbar.
They were also boosted by front-rower Harry Chapman and No8 Travis Brooke from Newcastle.
Newcastle decided not to send a team to compete for the Caldwell Cup and Central West took top honours with a 45-19 over Ilawarra in the final.
The Country titles will be on the June long weekend at Tamworth for the next two years.
"We know where it is, when it is and what we have to do at the next level,” Jeffery said.