Nelson Bay Junior Rugby Union Club is enjoying one of its most successful seasons ever, with more than 30 players aged from 10 to 18 selected in the Hunter Wildfires teams.
"The club has enjoyed an amazingly successful season in 2019 both at club and representative levels. These successes are a result of a great culture at Nelson Bay and having excellent coaching and administration staff," said juniors secretary Kellie Vincent.
Following on from the Wildfires selections, further representative honours were achieved by Logan Fenwick and Liam Page, who have been chosen to play for the NSW country under 16, as well as Lachlan Collins (NSW U/16s President's XV) plus Zali McDowell and Jacinda Summers in the NSW country under 17 girls.
"The entire club is proud of all its representative players, particularly Zali and Jacinda, who have become the club's first females to be chosen at this level," Vincent said.
Jacinda, a breakaway and still only 15, said she was excited to pull on the representative jumper for the first time.
"I have been playing for a about four years now and I enjoy the game more than playing touch," she said.
Sixteen-year-old Liam, who can switch between hooker, breakaway and number eight, said he was looking forward to joining the representative ranks and building both his skill and confidence.
"I have set myself some goals ... ultimately, long-term I would like to play professionally," he said.
Unfortunately for Liam he had to be ruled out through a wrist injury, but Logan pushed his claims further while playing for country, gaining selection in the NSW Gen Blue team to compete at the Australian championships in October.
The NSW Gen Blue squad was selected following a tournament played between NSW All Schools teams, Sydney and NSW country teams.
Junior Gropers also had success in the schools pathway with Toby Fraser winning the rare chance to play against fellow-Groper Logan Fenwick in the NSW All Schools carnival.
Toby and Logan have been mates since starting for the Bay as six-year-olds.
In an almost identical situation in the under 18s, Boston Kerapa (chosen in the NSW All Schools) went up against Groper teammate Jack Vincent playing for Combined States.
This is a friendship stretching back to kindergarten days at Shoal Bay School School.
The Nelson Bay junior teams are heading into the finals series with an unprecedented six teams qualifying.
The club has received a massive endorsement by being selected to host the entire finals series at Tomaree No. 1 Sportsground, now regarded as the best junior rugby facility in the Hunter.
Club registrar Mitch Fraser credits the club's success to a record 240 registered boys playing for the Gropers, with the addition of the girls competition boosting the club's numbers even further.