Open rep clash back on after Western rubber stamps bumper fixture

COP THAT: Oberon's Tui Oloapu would be a walk-up start to any senior Group 10 team named. Photo: PHIL BLATCH
COP THAT: Oberon's Tui Oloapu would be a walk-up start to any senior Group 10 team named. Photo: PHIL BLATCH

It’s back.

Senior Group 10 and Group 11 sides will go head-to-head this year in the annual Western Rams representative cluster.

The region’s showpiece fixture was dumped in 2017 as both western groups formed under 23s sides to line-up with the Country Rugby League’s decision to hold an under 23s country championship.

Group 10 and Group 11 under 23s sides will still clash as Western looks to form a competitive Rams side to contest the country championship, but the day will round out with a open fixture as well in 2018, enabling the best players in both competitions to go head-to-head.

Heading into 2018, it’ll mean the likes of St Pat’s recruits Zac Merritt, Sam Dwyer and Brendon Tago, along with Tigers guns Josh Starling, Ben McAlpine and Tui Oloapu, CYMS stars Tom Satterthwaite and Joe Lasagavibau and Hawks coach Willie Heta will all potentially play in the same Group 10 side.

Western regional manager Peter Clarke said the demand for rep footy from players over the age of 23 was still there, with the game to be used as a selection tool for a Western side to take on the Federation of Italia Rugby League Australia after the season.

“As tough as it is, they love playing and they want more after it,” Clarke said 

“It’s fair to have a senior game … we’re still working out whether Castlereagh and Woodbridge will have teams though.”

The winner of that senior game will then earn the hosting rights for the Western premiers challenge, with the grand final winners of each competition to face off in September.

Under 23s players good enough to play an open level will be selected in the main game without hurting chances of country championship selection.

While a Rams women’s team will contest a 13-a-side gala day on February 10 with selectors to then name a NSW country women’s side.