THE Muswellbrook Touch Association's under-12 boys' side will enter uncharted territory at this weekend's prestigious Junior State Cup.
The young Mambas - along with fellow club representative teams (under-10 boys, under-12 girls, under-14 boys, under-14 girls and under-18 girls) - are heading to Port Macquarie to contest the northern conference of the tournament from Friday, February 14, to Sunday, February 16.
The southern division of the NSW Touch event will then be played at Wagga Wagga seven days later, with the State Final scheduled for Werrington on Saturday, March 7.
Although next month's decider may be a little out of reach for the local lads, it won't be for a lack of talent or commitment.
Under the watchful eye of coach Hina Farrow, and his assistants Liam and Tyreece Anderson, the squad is ready to tackle the challenge head-on.
But, they'll have to overcome the likes of the Nelson Bay Neptunes, Peninsula Piranhas, Wallsend Wolves, Forster Tuncurry Tornadoes, Beresfield Bandits and Newcastle City Knights in Pool C.
"It's their first Junior State Cup in the under-12 age group," Liam Anderson said.
"A lot of them played in the under-10s last year, so it is a step up.
"But, we'll still go well - and we're aiming to make top 8.
"That would be a terrific result.
"At the end of the day, it's a great experience for the players and will hold them in good stead in 2021."
Anderson praised the boys' dedication, too.
"They started training about September - every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon," he said.
"Then we added Saturdays to our program.
"However, the kids love it.
"They are usually here before training begins and they stick around afterwards.
"That's pretty impressive."
Muswellbrook Mambas Junior State Cup campaign
POOL A: v Wallsend Wolves, Doyalson Dragons, Forster Tuncurry Tornadoes, Armidale Bushrangers, Newcastle City Knights, Manly Sea Eagles
POOL C: v Nelson Bay Neptunes, Peninsula Piranhas, Wallsend Wolves, Forster Tuncurry Tornadoes, Beresfield Bandits, Newcastle City Knights
POOL B: v Newcastle City Knights, Carlingford Cyclones, Singleton Storm, Peninsula Piranhas, Northern Beaches Renegades, Maitland Redbacks, Nelson Bay Neptunes
POOL C: v Peninsula Piranhas, Doyalson Dragons, Hornsby Lions, Wallsend Wolves, Forster Tuncurry Tornadoes
POOL A: v Central Coast Dolphins, Taree Flames, Carlingford Cyclones, Nelson Bay Neptunes, Beresfield Bandits, Lismore Lizards
POOL C: v Hornsby Lions, Ryde Eastwood Hawks, Berkeley Vale Panthers, Peninsula Piranhas, Carlingford Cyclones