Two Maitland Pickers players will debut for the Newcastle Rugby League representative team in 2012 but there was a stark contrast between the reactions to their selection.
Experienced campaigner Billy Towers took the news in his stride when he received the phone call from Pickers coach Ron Griffiths, while 20-year-old Marco Delapena could be described as somewhat excited when hearing the same news.
“I was able to pass the news on to them both and their reactions were completely different,” Griffiths said.
“Billy [Towers] was the same old Billy with no fuss whatsoever; although I’m sure he was somewhat overjoyed by his selection.
“At the opposite end of the scale was Marco [Delapena], who was like a schoolgirl at a One Direction concert.”
Towers and Delapena have earned selection in the Newcastle squad following an outstanding start to the season for the Pickers.
Towers has been players’ player on three occasions for the Pickers this season, while Delapena has slotted into whatever position, from second-row to wing, required by Griffiths in the opening six rounds.
The pair join Pickers teammates and Newcastle incumbents Jade Porter, Jacob Sinclair and Colby Schrader in the 17-man squad looking to emulate the NSW Country Championship won last year by the Rebels for the first time since 2005.
Porter moves from the bench to starting halfback while Sinclair, a NSW Country representative last season, has a position in the second row.
Pickers skipper Schrader gets a spot on the bench after being 18th man in 2011 and will sit alongside Towers and Delapena as fresh reserves.
Kurri Kurri captain Jesse Royal, who missed last year’s campaign because of family commitments, has been given the nod as starting prop.
Throw in seven players from undefeated competition leaders, including Terence Seu Seu at hooker fresh from a season with Manly in the NRL, and the three Coalfields clubs dominate selections.
“They [Maitland, Kurri Kurri and Cessnock] are up the top of the competition at the moment and deserve the representation,” Newcastle selector John Crooks said.
Newcastle have their first match on June 16 against the winner of the Illawarra and Central Coast clash being played at Morry Breen Oval on Saturday week.
The NSW Country Championship final is scheduled for June 22.