Country under 23s ready to rise to Samoan challenge

WISE WORDS: Albury's Josh Cale gives his Country under 23s team some advice at their training session at Equex Centre. Picture: Courtney Rees
WISE WORDS: Albury's Josh Cale gives his Country under 23s team some advice at their training session at Equex Centre. Picture: Courtney Rees

Country coach Josh Cale believes the clash with Samoa is an ideal opportunity.

The under 23 team has a big challenge taking on the World Cup bound team at Equex Centre on Friday night.

The side is giving away plenty of size and experience, but the former Albury mentor said there is plenty of buzz within the young playing group.

"I think it is a great opportunity for these boys and it is not everyday you get to come up against a World Cup side," Cale said. “It’s basically an NRL team in front of them, but they are excited.

“We have spoke about it and they are jumping out of their skins.

“They can’t wait and it is a great chance for them to put forward a case and show their ability.”

The majority of the team comes from the Canberra, Illawarra and Newcastle competitions.

It is the first year that the under 23s format has replaced an open age team.

The shift is part of the reason they’ve attracted such quality opposition.

Defence has been one of the main focuses with the Country team to come up against plenty of big bodies.

However Cale doesn’t want them to go into their shells against the likes of Josh Papalii, Frank Pritchard and Joey Leilua.

“We have worked on defence but with such a small camp we haven’t had weeks or months to prepare,” Cale said.

“We have touched on a few things in attack and we aren’t going to bash it up.

“We want to play a bit of footy and a lot of boys will be able to showcase what they have got.”

The team went into camp over the weekend and were able to use Belmore as their first of their bases.

Cale thought the opportunity to get tips of some former Canterbury players was an exciting way to kick off their campaign.

“It was unbelievable and a lot of ex players from the Bulldogs came with us, Brent Sherwin, Brett Kimmorley, Brad Morrin, Chris Armit, which was awesome for the boys,” he said.

They’ve also gotten plenty of insights from two more former Bulldogs while on the road with Adam Perry and Andrew Ryan are assisting Cale.

Cale thought they’ve also been invaluable.

They will tackle Scotland in Ballina.

The game starts at 7pm.

Tickets are available for purchase at the gate and cost $10 for adults, $5 for concessions with entry for under 15s free.

The first of the games, the under 17s clash between Riverina and Monaro starts at 3pm.

It is followed by the ladies tackle game between Riverina and Western at 4.15pm.

The final of the curtain-raisers between the Group Nine and Group 20 Indigenous teams is at 5pm.