The Andrew Johns and Laurie Daley Cups are upon us for another season. NewsCorp previews all 20 teams competing in the regional competitions, with the Riverina Bulls next.
THE most promising young regional players in all of New South Wales are getting the chance to put their name in the spotlight.
The Andrew Johns Cup and Laurie Daley Cup are less than three weeks from starting, with regions across the state represented.
We’ll gradually preview all 20 teams in both classes and continue with a look at how the Riverina Bulls will fare in 2023.
ANDREW JOHN’S CUP
Trainer: Seb Cotam
Players to watch: “Front rower Arthur Smith is a big boy with a big engine and it will be interesting to see him compete against higher quality competition. He’s trained down the house and has a good attitude. Bailey Piper can play on the hooker, lock, or in the halfs. He’s pretty versatile and just a natural footy player.”
Surprise Package: “Nic Bett didn’t make the group, but I saw something in him in the process. He came into a bigger squad and we wanted to see how he developed. He earned his spot out of nowhere. He’s big, versatile and hard working. He’s a back rower, center or wing and is about 6’3” tall.”
Why they will be competitive: “That level of rep foot is always the unknown. They haven’t played much against each other or other teams so it’s hard to know what we’re up against. We have the team together and they want to play for each other. I’ve been doing this for a few years and they’re definitely one of the teams that really clicked. I think we can go a long way and hopefully they will continue to U18.”
Last season: 8th
Trainer: Shane McCallum
Players to watch: Jamie Cowling is a Goulburn halfback who was promoted to the Monaro Colts. Excellent passing and shooting but also offers a lot defensively, not afraid to attack the bigger boys. He’s been training very well and a lot of great things are expected of him this season. Hooker Koby Anderson is a huge difference maker in a key position for the Colts. A dexterous dummy half that knows how to choose the right option nine times out of ten. Can also sniff out an attempt at close range.
surprise package Pat Koen. The big front rower from Yass could make the difference this year. A young talent who is still a bit raw but willing to learn and with a little coaching has the ceiling to become a top player.
Why they will be competitive: A sixth place last year makes them optimistic that they can improve this season. Many of the players are currently training weekly with the Harold Matthews Cup Canberra Raiders squad, which is an excellent experience for the young players and a chance to take their game to a higher standard. The coaches hope the players returning to the Colts will bring a higher standard of football with them.
Last season: Sixth
Squad: Hayden Nye, Jet Millard, Samuel Green, Jonah Alaia, Patrick Kennedy, Jamie Cowling, Troy Codey, Daniel Moananu, Koby Anderson, Billy Hollands, Lochie Ellard, Kobe Field, Thomas Handsaker, Malachi Tomlinson, Cooper Adams, Patrick Koen, Joshua Klobucar , Thomas Moss, Blake Slater, Levi Woods, Luke Palmer, Tyrell Bartlett, Angus Durbidge, Ryan Douglas, Shannon Tardrew, Cooper Johnston, Zildjian Tafili, Demsey Woolf
MACARTHUR WEST’S TIGERS
Trainer: Alec Busch
Players to watch: Full-back Aaron Paea has dabbled a bit as a five-eight but seems to have cemented the full-back as his own. Great running game, very fast from the spot. Not a lot of size, but he believes in himself and his skills and is able to lead his team from behind
At over 1.80m, front rower PJ French is hard to miss. Not only does he lead the line physically, but he is also a leader within the team, with all the guys respecting and following what he says. He has good line speed, he’s strong, mobile and as tough as it gets.
surprise package: Coach Bush has been very happy with second rower Will Jenkins in the Trials and is showing real potential to develop into a key role for the squad. Now it’s about making sure he’s consistent. Paul Johnston is a big, powerful winger who makes a lot of damaging runs. Still young and with a lot to learn, but can become unstoppable over time.
Why they will be competitive: It’s Coach Bush’s first year with this roster, but so far he’s been really impressed with the talent and dedication shown. It’s been a tough pre-season but all the lads have given it their all and are determined to avenge their big last loss last season, which is ultimately the club’s goal for the year.
Last season: Third (beaten Grand Finalists)
LAURIE DELEY MUG
Trainer: Matt Pike
Players to watch: “Predominantly playing in the middle as a front rower, Fijian talent Beniel Dakunibubului comes from a Harold Matts campaign with Canberra. Noah Killeen is a lock who can play back row and was also on this Canberra side. Sam Garziani is a full-back who was in the Raiders SG Ball first squad. He’s not too far away from playing there. He is a good organizer and speaker.”
surprise package: “McKinley Hamblin is also a midfielder who came in good and fit with a good attitude. He looks like he belongs. He hasn’t played in the U16s but has been very impressive this preseason.”
Why they will be competitive: “They’re a good, hard-working group of guys who get along well. It’s really positive how they’ve been training, how they’re buying in and the progress they’ve made since U16 is incredible. There’s a core of about eight or nine that have been together and that makes a big difference with some pieces complementing them. A few years younger have been lost to the Raiders but they will be fine.”
Last season: 9
Trainer: Brendan Bradley
Players to watch: Second rower Max Mercer brings a lot of energy and conversation to the team. A good edge player, a strong ball carrier, runs great on the line and very solid defensively. Hooker Xavier Caccioti is a strong defensive player but also great in the footy. Good foot intelligence and simply an all-rounder on the field.
surprise package: Front rower Jayden Svager is a good kid with a lot of talent. At 6’2′ and over 100kg he has plenty of experience in the junior first division and Bradley hopes this is the year he sees his potential and becomes a crucial factor for the team.
Why they will be competitive: It is Bradley’s first year coaching the Laurie Daley Cup side, having come from the Andrew Johns Cup, and he hopes his new approach will help the team realize its potential to compete at the highest level . After a disappointing eighth place finish last year, Bradley acknowledges the stiff competition but is confident his team can keep up.
Last season: Eighth
MACARTHUR WEST’S TIGERS
Captain: Zac Gibson
Trainer: Tom Morrison
Players to watch: Half Zac Gibson is a central player in the roster now in his second year at the Laurie Daley Cup. Started out as a hooker initially but transitioned into half and has settled in well. A short and stocky physique, but swift and illusory in its movements. Also very solid defensively with excellent tackle technique that doesn’t shy away from the bigger guys.
Lock Luke Prebble is the kind of player most teams would wish for. Still a bit raw at a young age but with a massive engine, he keeps busy on the field and puts in a lot of defensive work. Tough enough to get involved in all the dirty work.
surprise package: Full-back Cooper Mangan is a naturally quick player who is a nightmare in defense. He still has a lot to learn when it comes to his positional play, both in support of attack and defence, but he has a lot of potential and natural ability that could be huge for the Tigers this year.
Why they will be competitive: The Macarthur Wests Tigers, who finished fourth in the rankings last season, always have their eye on the top. Coach Morrison admits there’s still a gap in the middle of the park, where they’ve lost a few strikers this year, that still needs to be developed, but also thinks the side have improved compared to last season in Regarding external defense and spine has improved. They are fit and willing and gain momentum as a unit.
Last season: Fourth (eliminated final Wk 1)
Originally published as the Andrew Johns/Laurie Daley Cup: Each Club Introduced Ahead of the 2023 NSWRL Junior Reps Season
https://www.codesports.com.au/sport/andrew-johnslaurie-daley-cup-every-club-profiled-ahead-of-the-2023-nswrl-junior-reps-season/news-story/e98085af2078837700032e78762c00f8?nk=a5a67a0ac68dab7a6144ca827832c92a-1674084913 Andrew Johns Cup, Laurie Daley Cup Rugby League NSWRL Preview