Finnley Neilsen, Kyle Mawhinney and NSW Country cubs to tackle City slickers at Penrith

LEADING THE CHARGE: Western under 16s skipper and NSW Country lock Finnley Neilsen. Photo: CRL
LEADING THE CHARGE: Western under 16s skipper and NSW Country lock Finnley Neilsen. Photo: CRL

Parkes duo Finnley Neilsen and Kyle Mawhinney will line-up for NSW Country on Friday night at Penrith when the boys from the bush tackle a City side comprising the best players from the Harold Matthews Cup.

The under 16s representative clash is rekindling the old City versus Country concept and the Parkes Marists and their team mates, following on from a stunning Johns Cup country championship campaign with Western to kick-off the 2019 season, are keen to take the next step.

Cabonne Roos gun and Group 11 representative Jackson Gersbach is calling it a "challenge", the biggest of his fledgling football career.

"It will be a good challenge, one I've not had before against strong opponents like these guys," the Molong Central School student said.

COUNTRY CALL: Cabonne gun Jackson Gersbach will lead from the front when he makes his NSW Country debut at Penrith on Friday night. Photo: NICK McGRATH

COUNTRY CALL: Cabonne gun Jackson Gersbach will lead from the front when he makes his NSW Country debut at Penrith on Friday night. Photo: NICK McGRATH

"We've done a bit of video on them; they're all strong players, they're going to be big bodies, they've got a couple of skillful, big centres and a fullback we need to keep an eye on.

"This is the best from the Harold Matts so it's going to be a good challenge."

Particularly for the forwards, which, at starting prop, Gersbach is expected to lead alongside Rams guns Neilsen and Aston Warwick in the backrow.

Newly anointed NSW Rugby League's Junior Blues member Braye Porter will play at fullback while Mawhinney and Matthew Noakes will make their NSW Country debuts off the bench.

A somewhat diminutive bookend, Gersbach is expecting it to be a tough game through the middle but that's where he excelled during the country championship.

"I'm definitely not the biggest frontrower but I'm hoping to step up for country and get it over the city boys and get a role on," Gersbach said.

"It's going to be a high standard though, they've been playing that high level while we were playing Rams. I'm confident and keen to see how I go."

LOCAL DUO: Parkes' Finnley Neilsen and Kyle Mawhinney were named in the under 16s NSW Country side in April following their Andrew Johns Cup campaign.

LOCAL DUO: Parkes' Finnley Neilsen and Kyle Mawhinney were named in the under 16s NSW Country side in April following their Andrew Johns Cup campaign.

NSW Country has been in camp since Wednesday lunchtime at Penrith, the match doubling as a bit of a trial game for the bush guns in the lead-up to a tour of England at the end of the season.

Gersbach says having five of his Rams teammates in the NSW Country squad and nine members of the Northern Rivers Titans side that knocked off Western in the Johns Cup final should ensure combinations are easy to forge on Friday night.

NSW Country takes on the NSW Rugby League Harold Matthews under 16s from 4.10pm at Penrith Stadium, the match will be the curtain raiser to the Penrith Panthers versus New Zealand Warriors NRL game.

  • NSW COUNTRY UNDER 16s: 1 Braye Porter (St Johns Dubbo/Western Rams), 2 Rowan Mansfield (Ballina/Northern Rivers Titans), 3 Reagan Hurley (Bombala/Monaro Colts), 4 Reef Sommerville (Cudgen/Northern Rivers Titans), 5 Malakhi Donovan (Sawtell/North Coast Bulldogs), 6 Riley Lack (Murwillumbah/Northern Rivers Titans), 7 Thomas Weaver (Cudgen/Northern Rivers Titans), 8 Jackson Gersbach (Cabonne/Western Rams), 9 Oskar Bryant (Cudgen/Northern Rivers Titans), 10 Jack Cullen (Cudgen/Northern Rivers Titans), 11 Aston Warwick (South Dubbo/Western Rams), 12 Ryan Foran (Murwillumbah/Northern Rivers Titans), 13 Finnley Neilsen (Parkes Marist/Western Rams); Bench: 14 Kyle Mawhinney (Parkes Marist/Western Rams), 15 Noah Johannssen (Tweed Heads/Northern Rivers Titans), 16 Mark Simon (Farrer/Greater Northern Tigers), 17 Matthew Noakes (Red Bend/Western Rams), 18 Keegan Pace (Cudgen/Northern Rivers Titans), 19 Jonah Longbottom (St Georges Basin/Illawarra South Coast Dragons), 20 Jock Brazel (Moree/Greater Northern Tigers).