Hunter Valley Group 21 juniors Steven Dengate, Mackenzie Shepherdson, Jalen Darcy, Hugh Collins, Jackson Shade and Blake Trees named in Greater Northern Tigers under-18 squad

THE Greater Northern Tigers face a tough draw in their Laurie Daley Cup Under-18 Country Championships, which kick off this weekend.

The Tigers are pitted in the northern pool, also including the Parramatta Eels Development Squad.

“It will be a harder division this year with Parra there,” Tigers coach Peter Stevens said.

“In saying that though we won’t be worrying about the opposition.

“We’ll just worry about what we do.

“Not having a trial might be a bit of a concern but we have trained very well.

“I’m extremely happy with what they’ve done.

“We’ll just have to grit our teeth and grind it out early.

“If we can match them from the start, we’ll be all right.”

His side meets Central Coast Roosters first up at Morrie Breen Oval, Wyong, on Saturday.

Sam Wentworth skippers the team from the second-row and will be a key player, Stevens said.

“He’s very solid, a very mature kid who will lead from the front,” he explained.

“Muswellbrook’s Stevie Dengate (halfback) and Trent Taylor (fullback) form a good combination, too, in the spine.

“I’ll be looking to them to steer us around.

“We do have a few younger age kids who are going well, too.

“They’re all ready to go.”

Dengate, who represented the Tigers last season, isn’t the only Group 21 junior in the squad.

He’ll be joined by Denman’s Mackenzie Shepherdson, Scone’s Jalen Darcy, Aberdeen’s Hugh Collins and Singleton duo Jackson Shade and Blake Trees.

Trainer Chris Bryant, from the Greyhounds, is lending a hand as well.

Greater Northern Tigers under-18s

1 Trent Taylor (Dungowan), 2 Mackenzie Shepherdson (Denman), 3 Kyle Johnson (Dungowan), 4 Jhett Butler (Dungowan), 5 Harrison Freeman (Dungowan), 6 Brayden Reid (North Tamworth), 7 Steven Dengate (Muswellbrook), 8 Kalab McMillan- Bassett (Narrabri), 9 Clay Frendin (Dungowan), 10 Jackson Shade (Singleton), 11 Cooper Harris (Dungowan), 12 Sam Wentworth (c - Dungowan), 13 Blake Trees (Singleton), 14 Kobe Bone (North Tamworth), 15 Daniel Kelly (North Tamworth), 16 Hugh Collins (Aberdeen), 17 Jalen Darcy (Scone), 18 Zak Turnbull (Gunnedah). Coach – Peter Stevens, manager – Brad McManus, trainers (yellow) Richard Ingram, (blue) Chris Bryant, (orange) Daniel Swan

Round 1 - Andrew Johns and Laurie Daley Cup

Saturday –

10am - Johns Cup/11.20am - Daley Cup

Central Coast Roosters v Greater Northern Tigers – Morry Breen Oval, Wyong

10.30am - Johns Cup/11.50am - Daley Cup

Newcastle Knights DS v Northern Rivers Titans - Harry Elliot Oval, Forster

1.20pm - Johns Cup/2.40pm - Daley Cup

North Coast Bulldogs v Parramatta Eels - Harry Elliot Oval, Forster

4.45pm - Johns Cup/6.05pm - Daley Cup

Western Rams v Penrith Panthers - Tony Luchetti Sportsground, Lithgow

Noon - Johns Cup/1.20pm - Daley Cup

Illawarra South Coast Dragons v Monaro Colts - Ron Costello Oval, Shellharbour