A bumper group of young rugby league fans got the chance to meet their idols last week during the annual Newcastle Knights’ junior coaching clinic at McDonald Jones Stadium.
Over 160 members took part in the hour-long session, which is run in conjunction with the National Rugby League’s Hunter-based game development officers.
The majority of the first-grade side was on deck to run the kids through seven drill rotations, testing their tackling, passing and kicking.
Having the chance to mix with the likes of Mitchell Pearce, Jamie Buhrer and Danny Levi is part of the Knights’ focus to keep junior members engaged with the club.
“If you sign up at the beginning [of the season] or two days before [the clinic], it doesn’t matter,” Knights membership and ticketing manager Sam O’Hearn said.
“It’s such a big part of our plan to keep the kids engaged and to make sure they’re loving it [membership] as much as anyone else.
“Mum and dad come to the games and get to experience a lot of that, but when you’re young sometimes you miss out with the games.
“So we want to make sure the kids get as much out of their membership as possible, and can enjoy it and get to know the boys on a personal level.”
TWO Hunter cricketers played in the Under 16 State Challenge last week, representing Country against city.
Cooper Lennox and Toby Gray played for Country Sixers, one of two Country sides, in the four-team tournament held at Raby Sports Complex near Campbelltown.
The teams were based on the state’s two Big Bash League franchises with two teams from each region representing the Sydney Sixers and Sydney Thunder.
With regional pride and the prospect of higher honours on the line, there were some tight and close contests.
In the first match, Country Sixers 9/165 defeated Metro Thunder who were all out for 155. The second match saw more involvement for the pair with Lennox scoring 35 not out and Gray taking three catches.
Facing their Country counterparts in game three, the duo’s team was unable to reach Country Thunder’s target of 249. Gray took 1/37 off 10 overs and Lennox made 30 runs, but it was to no avail as the side was all out for 145.
The Challenge helps with selection of the NSW side, which will compete at the Under 17 National Championships later in the year.
At the concurrently held Under 18 Female State Challenge, the Hunter’s Grace Dignam, Alisha Bates, Milly Riley, Jordan Anderson and Abbey Taylor played for Country Thunder and had two wins from as many matches. Allison McGrath and Millicent Kohl played for the Country Breakers, who had one win and a loss.