Group 16's battle of the birds

Rugby league fans, it is time to get excited. 

The Group 16 season kicks off with the local derby this Sunday between the Bega Roosters and Tathra Sea Eagles. 

“We’re looking forward to the new season,” Roosters president Garry Arkin said. 

“We’ve got the whole new batch of players, the under 18s coming through the ranks are showing some exciting new prospects and Ryan Apps is certainly not one to be backwards about giving the young guys a shot at the top grade. 

“We’ve had a huge player turnover from last season,” Arkin said. 

“We’re looking forward to see how some of the new guys fit in.”

After a promising pre-season start that saw a number of players selected for the All Stars match, the first grade is shaping up well, Arkin said. 

“Ryan will lead the team as captain-coach,” Arkin said. 

Arkin said Apps had been working hard to develop football culture in the club and is passionate about playing a clean game. 

“I think that’s the key to him and his whole squad’s success,” Arkin said. 

“His passion for the game will rub off on the players around him.

“The boys will give a great account of themselves on Sunday and throughout the season.”

The Roosters have signed on a number of exciting new players, but Arkin said Blake Robinson was the “major signing” for the first grade squad. 

“We’ll be interested to see how he goes on the field.”

However, Arkin said the club was waiting to see exact numbers at training before determining the starting line-up. 

Meanwhile, the club will be looking to its experienced play-makers to score points. 

“We’ll be looking to the experience of Blake and Lee Fuller to work the combinations with Ryan.

“Jarrod Tamatea, although he’s only young, he’s virtually a seasoned campaigner.

“Billy Hudson has been training enthusiastically and will be rewarded with a first grade position on Sunday,” he said. 

However, Arkin said it will be no small challenge to defeat the Tathra Sea Eagles. 

“Tathra has got some really good players, they’ve built up some good form over the off-season. 

“They recruited well getting captain-coach Willie McDonald.

“He got Leeton [Greens] through to a grand final last year - he’s got runs on the board to show he is no slouch.”

Opening the derby on Sunday will be the ladies league-tag clash between the Chicks and the debutantes the Tathra Seagulls. 

 Arkin said the Chicks’ captaincy was left open as Kezie Apps had commitments to full contact league in Wollongong. 

“But Joc [Joccoaa Rogers] has taken over the captaincy and will be steering the ship,” he said. 

“[She will move] from the full back to a more physical role, more hands on with the ball where she can direct play.”

It will be the first time for the Chicks to meet the new Tathra squad on the field. 

“Tathra are unknown quantity in the tag.

“They have a very young side in their first season. 

“And they’ll be treated with respect by the Bega girls.”

Arkin said the Chicks line-up had “a bit of a changing of the guard” with a number of new players in the squad. 

However, with six selected for the league-tag exhibition game - and two others in to the rep squad - the Chicks still look like a strong force this year.  

In the reserve grade, captain Steven Luff was a workhorse for the Indigenous Dream Team recently. 

Luff will lead the reserves from the front and will combine well with the attacking forwards. 

The reserves are also hoping to be well-served by a number of new recruits. 

In other club news it has been a disappointing start to the season for the Roosters. 

The club’s kiosk at the Bega Rec Ground was gutted by fire on Monday night and arson was suspected. 

Sunday’s games will be played at Tathra, but Arkin said when the club does host home games it “won’t let fans go hungry”. 

“As soon as we are able to enter the building we’ll be able to assess the full damage.

“We’re hoping to get by with a few handouts.

“We can set up a barbecue tent we believe and possibly utitlise the club house as a temporary kiosk,” he said.  

The local derby kicks off at the Tathra Beach Country Club field from noon with the league-tag. 

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