TWO teenagers have been handed a dream chance to play first grade for Gundagai in the Group Nine grand final rematch against Southcity at Anzac Park on Sunday.
In an impressive show of confidence by Gundagai captain-coach James Smart, rookies Charles Barton and Tate Brooke have been thrust into the Tigers team for the blockbuster.
“Yes this will be his (Barton) debut; local junior,” Smart said on Wednesday.
“He’s also in the Hardy Shield representative team; he goes to Mater Dei (Catholic College).
“Tate Brooke will also make his debut this weekend; another local junior.
“(He) Played Harold Mathews with the Raiders last year.”
Significantly, Barton and Brooke have burst into the Gundagai squad at a critical time for Tigers.
After smashing Young 48-14 in the first round, Gundagai struggled to a 30-14 success against Kangaroos a week later.
Smart was almost livid with the team’s latest performance and will expect a huge improvement on Sunday against their number one premiership danger.
The Tigers will have no shortage of incentive to push past Southcity.
The last time the two teams met was in the 2016 grand final, with Southcity winning 22-18 and ending Gundagai’s bid for a Group Nine title defence.
The Tigers will again be without four big-name players on Sunday and also banking Group Nine representatives Dylan Cole and Tyron Gorman coming through the Kelly Cup against Group 20 without injury on Saturday.
Smart reported prop Vincent Brown “won’t play” and Brett Eccleston, Kieran Pearce and Dane O’Hehir are “all still out as well” for various reasons.