TEMORA players rub shoulders with NRL players every training session, but the experience went to a whole new level at Equex Centre on Thursday.
The Dragons got the experience of a lifetime taking on Country in an opposed training session in the lead up to Sunday’s City-Country game.
Coach Michael Henderson and playmaker Daniel Fitzhenry have more than 300 NRL games experience between them, but it still didn’t prepare the young Dragons team for what was going to confront them.
The likes of Kade Snowden, Joel Thompson and Tariq Sims were charging towards them with James Maloney and Jack Bird controlling Country’s backline against a team of players who knocked off work early just for the occasion.
Dragons forward Kurt Hinchcliffe had his own special battle with brother Ryan as father Dennis and older brother Andrew watched on from the sidelines.
It was one aspect of the preparation that the Melbourne utility was looking forward to the most and thought his hometown team provided a solid hit out.
“It was really good and I thought the Dragons boys did a really good job against us,” Ryan Hinchcliffe said.
“It was a little bit surreal playing against my own hometown.”
Country upped the ante leading into Sunday’s game with the physical session and will have one more session together to help build combinations.
There was plenty of nerves from the Dragons playing heading into the session but they quickly evaporated.
Kurt Hinchcliffe said the speed of which Country moved around the ground was the biggest difference.
“It was a good experience and the speed of the game was a lot quicker,” he said.
“Seeing the boys here you can really tell they are a class above everyone they are that fast and the talk about there is really good.”
He thought it was a great opportunity for the club and a very different lead in to Saturday’s game against Cootamundra.
An injured Henderson had to forced to watch from the sidelines in a moonboot, but was grateful for the opportunity given to the club.
He thought it was a credit to Trent Barrett and the Country team for giving the Dragons the opportunity.
“I think the boys had a lot of fun and got an appreciation of just how big and fast these guys are,” Henderson said.
“This is the best of the best type thing with a lot of good players and stars of the game and is a buzz for them.”
Henderson is looking to reserve the Dragons poor record at Les Boyd Oval on Saturday and believes defence will be key.
“Coota can score points so if we can keep them to a minimum I’m confident we can come away with the win,” he said.
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