There are three Weissel Medal winners in Riverina’s squad to tackle South Sydney next month, but the most recent one isn’t among them.
Zac Masters capped off a big season with Tumut by being crowned Group Nine’s best player in August, but the prop wasn’t named for the clash at Albury Sportsground on February 16.
Instead he’ll line up earlier in the day as part of Riverina’s under 23s side.
Masters was hoping to be able to take on the NRL club but was told the priority lies with preparations for the Country Championships campaign.
“It would be awesome to play against them,” Masters said.
“They are best players in the country, and some of them in the world, and it’s not every day us Riverina boys get a chance to play against a team like that.”
As part of their preparations for the Country Championships, the under 23s side will face Melbourne’s under 20s.
However Masters is still a chance of taking on Wayne Bennett’s men after a discussion with coach Josh Cale.
“A few of us might get the chance to play off the bench in the game,” he said.
“Myself for example might play a 20-minute stint in the first game and then play in the opens game as well, but we will see what happens on the day.”
Masters represented Country last season after being one of the standouts for Riverina.
They’ve drawn traditional powerhouses Newcastle and Illawarra in their first two games in March and Masters is looking to put in another big showing.
“We had a pretty decent side last year but I think we just underachieved,” he said.
“We had some good footballers but on the day against Canberra we just didn’t bring our A game.
“It was a bit disappointing, but it is a good concept for us boys, who have come through different pathways, to get another pathway while you are living and playing in the country.”