By MELTON PAIS
NEW South Wales Country U23s arrived yesterday with coach Josh Cale saying his men were expecting a “physical and tough” match against PNG U23 on Sunday.
Cale, who has former Australian Kangaroos and NSW Blues forward Andrew Ryan as his assistant, brought an 18-man squad along with former top NRL referee Shayne Hayne.
The NSW Country side take on Stanley Tepend’s PNG Residents U23s in an inaugural match at the Oil Search National Football Stadium.
“We know that the PNG side will be very physical and tough and they will be very willing,” Cale said.
“We know we are up for a battle nevertheless, we’re really looking forward to the match.
“We have watched their highlights from the local Digicel Cup matches and we know exactly how tough they will be on Sunday,” Cale added.
“Its going to be a tough game but regardless it’s an honour for my guys because it’s going to be a great experience for them playing against a PNG side.”
Cale said one of his players Zachary Masters had already experienced the NRL and he was expecting him to take the lead against PNG on the weekend.
“We have great support staff in the likes of Andrew Ryan and Adam Perry and they will help in team building and confidence.”
Cale said it was his first time in the country and added that the weather would be a factor.
“Our main goal here is to build the confidence so that we can show to the NRL and feeder clubs in Australia that the NSW Country side have players capable to playing in all types of conditions.”
Cale said he wanted to see matches like the U23s organised in the future for talent from both country’s to benefit.
NSW Country U23 captain Ryley Thomas said the first thing the team had to come to terms with was the weather which was hot and humid but that would not be used as an excuse and his side would adjust to the conditions over the coming days heading into Sunday’s game.
“I don’t know too much about the opposition (PNG) but all I know is, the match on Sunday will be a tough one but I’m pretty excited to get some experience out here,” Thomas said.
“It’s my first time here in PNG and it will be great to experience the culture and the climate over the next few days before the game,” Thomas said.
Thomas said the team had started training on Monday in Brisbane and would get in a couple more sessions before game day. Fixtures: Sun, Oct 14 – 12pm Southern Confederation v Australian Defence Force (women), 1pm Southern Confed v ADF (men), 3pm PNG U23s v NSW Country U23s.
By MELTON PAIS