STRONG performances by a trio of senior rugby players from The Armidale School at the recent Australian Schoolboy Rugby Championships in Sydney bode well for the NSW Country 18s side when they take on City in the annual clash at Bathurst this Sunday.
The country side will also be captained by TAS First XV skipper and Guyra local, Stirling Munsie, who played for NSW Junior XV which defeated Qld 2 43-5, before losing to Qld 1, 19-40 and ACT 5-22.
"There's no better preparation for a game than to have played a few games of such a high caliber," Stirling said.
"It'll be extremely tough, this is one of the strongest City teams to come through in recent years and if we are to beat them we need to match their physicality from the get go - perhaps bring out a bit of country mongrel."
Prop Eugene Campbell from Walcha and second rower Fred Kearney, from Coonabarabran were members of the NSW Barbarians who went on to win the Sir Edward Weary Dunlop Trophy as runners up in the tournament, going down to NSW 1 14-24 in the grand final, having defeated Victoria 29-0 in their first match and NSW 2 22-14, in their second.
Fred said the Barbarians team were the definite underdogs of the tournament with many people not expecting them to make it past the first round - but after dominating the first game against Victoria and keeping them scoreless, it demonstrated their potential as real contenders for the championship.
"The last game against NSW 1 was definitely the best game and whilst the result does not reflect it, it was the highest quality of rugby I have ever played in," Fred said.
"Playing alongside players who have been selected into professional academies and chosen in the Australian A side it was quite the experience; the pace, physicality and skill was extraordinary, the game was a tough battle right and was close the entire game."
Eugene agreed: "Playing at that level developed our game hugely.
"Playing with and against some of the best under 18s players in the nation lifted our own performance and made me start thinking more about how I can change my game not just to benefit me but to also benefit the players in my team."
The team includes a fourth New England rep, Hayden Schumacher from Armidale.
Another TAS student, Archie McMaster from Tamworth, also representing New England, has been named in the Country under 14s.
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