Rugby union: Wildfires young guns rewarded with NSW Country selection for Chikarovski Cup

STEPPING UP: Young gun Sophie Clancy is one of eight Hunter Wildfires selected in the NSW Country woemn's origin side. Picture: Stewart Hazell
STEPPING UP: Young gun Sophie Clancy is one of eight Hunter Wildfires selected in the NSW Country woemn's origin side. Picture: Stewart Hazell

NSW Country coach Paddy Bowen conceded a couple of Hunter players "weren't on the radar" before the Wildfires received a late call up to play in the Jack Scott Cup.

The Wildfires finished sixth on the ladder and went on to beat Campbelltown in the division two grand final.

On Friday, 12 Hunter players, including eight from the Wildfires, were named in the NSW Country Origin side, which will be led by Wallaroos captain Grace Hamilton, to contest Chikarovski Cup.

Wildfires' grand-final hero Sophie Clancy is joined by Candice Clay, Sian Filipo, Kate Holland, Trudi Peterson, Peter Salter, Maryann Utai and Ash Walker. Katrina Barker (Warringah), Leilani Nathan (Easts) and Randwick duo Layne Morgan and Maya Stewart complete the Hunter contingent.

"There are Hunter girls who weren't on the Country radar last year - Trudi Peterson, Kate Holland and a few others," Bowen said. "The Jack Scott Cup was a blessing. I watched a lot of games and had a really good look at the Hunter girls."

NSW Country meet Sydney Blue at Forshaw Park on Sunday before tackling Canberra and Sydney Gold in Bathurst (November 14-15).

The Chikarovski Cup will act as a selection trial for the NSW Waratahs Super W side.

Barker, Morgan and Stewart were part of the triumphant 2020 Waratahs along with Hamilton, Arabella McKenzie, Piper Duck and Claudia Neilsen .

"You have to draw on that experience," Bowen said. "Someone like Cheech (Barker) has played for Country for years. The young Hunter girls will definitely get an opportunity."

especially locks Trudi Peterson and Kate Holland. They bring a bit of size and physicality to the attack.

"They are not there to make up the numbers, we chose them on form and they will definitely get a red hot crack at it.

"Sophie Clancy is obviously a player of the future. She is still quite young and it will be a good leaning curve for her to sit back and see how players like Arabella McKenzie and Katrina Barker manage a game. It will help her game in the bigger scheme of things.

"I didn't know much about Candice before the trial in Singleton. She was barnstorming. She came to play 100 per cent. You have to reward that and she can play anywhere in the front row. We took her for that versatility and we have to negate some of those big Sydney girls too. "

This story Wildfires young guns rewarded with NSW Country selection for Chikarovski Cup first appeared on Newcastle Herald.