STEVE Haylen is a former Tiger charged with igniting some young representative careers in Wyong this Saturday.
The Greater Northern under-16s tackle the Central Coast Roosters in their first round CRL Andrew Johns Cup (Country Under-16 Championship) match at Morrie Breen Oval.
Haylen, a star for the Muswellbrook Rams in the Hunter Valley Group 21 competition and Northern Division (now Greater Northern) in Country Championships, is now guiding the promising outfit.
And, the former tough-as-teak prop remembers well his Tiger days.
“I played under Darryl Rando (coach), they were great times,” Haylen said.
“Mick Schmiedel (the current Tigers women’s coach) was our hooker.
“I’ve told the boys about the system I came through and mentioned the pathways are there for them through that same system today.
“If they play well for the Tigers and make a Country side then they will have just about every NRL team chasing them.”
Haylen is excited for the current Greater Northern crop of youngsters, too.
The squad includes Aberdeen halfback Pichai Dixon, Singleton centre Daltyn McCartney and Scone quintet Blake Johnston, Sam Fechner, Hayden Bull, Luke Smith and Nicholas Laurie as well as assistant coach Gary “Bomber” Jones and trainer Anthony Cubillo from Muswellbrook.
“It’s their first game (against Central Coast) and we do have a pretty decent squad, I think,” he said.
“That’s been a bit hard to gauge because we haven’t had any trials to grade them on.
“We’ve just had a few opposed sessions against the 18s.
“We were good one week and poor the next.
“However, we do have some good young kids though and they have been training well.
“We started before Christmas and had eight or nine sessions.
“While it has been hard to get them all together, they have trained strongly.”
Greater Northern Tigers under-16s
1 Latrell Newman (Moree), 2 Blake Johnston (Scone), 3 Campbell Watchirs (Inverell), 4 Daltyn McCartney (Singleton), 5 Brayden Talbott-Hatch (Gunnedah), 6 Ethan Antzakles (Farrer), 7 Pichai Dixon (Aberdeen), 8 Mark Simon (Farrer), 9 Sam Fechner (Scone), 10 Jeffrey Harvey (Narrabri), 11 Hayden Bull (Scone), 12 Luke Smith (Scone), 13 Jock Brazel (Moree), 14 Clint Aitken (Dungowan), 15 lachlan Smith (Farrer), 17 Ryan Kelly-Payne (Gunnedah), 18 Nicholas Laurie (Scone), 20 Jordan Leota (Dungowan). Coach Steve Haylen (Muswellbrook), assistant Gary “Bomber” Jones (Muswellbrook), manager – Mick Schmiedel (Tamworth), trainers – (yellow) Tom Learoyd-Lahrs (Tamworth), (blue) Anthony Cubillo (Muswellbrook), (orange) Daniel Swan
Round 1 - Andrew Johns and Laurie Daley Cup
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