Rugby Union: Nelson Bay Junior Gropers selected in Waratahs gifted and talented program

SELECTED: Junior Gropers (from left): Darcy Brown, 15, Jed Smith, 14, and Ethan Howarth, 15, at Bill Strong Oval.
SELECTED: Junior Gropers (from left): Darcy Brown, 15, Jed Smith, 14, and Ethan Howarth, 15, at Bill Strong Oval.

Four Nelson Bay Junior Gropers have been identified by the NSW Waratahs after being chosen to participate in a representative training camp in preparation for the 2022 under 16 'Gen Blue' program.

Darcy Brown, 15, Jed Smith, 14, Ethan Howarth, 15 and Oscar Affleck, 15, have been playing rugby union together for Nelson Bay for the last four years under astute coach Clint Brown.

While all four have been part of the gifted and talented Wildfires squad over the past years and experienced representative rugby at varying levels, their selection in the 'Gen Blue' squad goes one step further and puts them in future state calculations.

It provides the boys with an opportunity to impress both Rugby Australia and NSW Waratah talent identification staff, coaches and trainers for possible selection in the 2022 NSW Squad, who will contend the National U16 championships in September 2022.

The Examiner caught up with three of the boys, all of whom attend Tomaree High School.

Halfback Darcy Brown has a steely determination and no nonsense presence about him.

"It means the world top me," he replied when asked about the selection. "Hopefully I can go on one day to play for NSW and Australia. I enjoy bonding with the boys and putting in the hard work at training."

Oscar Affleck

Oscar Affleck

Jed Smith, a flanker who has represented NSW combined high schools, enjoys the competitive aspect and being an enforcer.

"I like to smash the opposition."

Second-rower and lineout jumper Ethan Howarth is another who likes dishing out the big hits in defence as well as attacking, but "most of all I enjoy playing with my mates".

Unfortunately, Oscar Affleck, who won best forward at the country championships in May this year, could not attend after receiving a rugby scholarship to attend Ipswich Grammar school in Brisbane.

The three-day 'Gen Blue' camp will be held at the Waratahs headquarters in Daceyville from January 21-23, 2022, where the boys will undergo skills training and testing, as well as strength and conditioning activities.

Nelson Bay Junior Rugby Club secretary Kellie Vincent said that the Gropers club was proud to support the boys and welcomed any financial assistance to the club to help them and other talented players coming through the ranks.

"Clint Brown has coached the boys since U8s and has been their Wildfires coach for the past four years. He is a fantastic influence on these boys and we are very lucky to have such an enthusiastic and successful mentor/coach."

In June 19 junior Gropers were selected for Hunter Wildfires squads from the under 12 to under 18 age groups playing in venues to play in the NSW Junior Rugby Union State Titles.

Anyone interested in supporting the club can make contact via Facebook.

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