NICK Palmer’s stocks continue to rise after the 20-year-old Hamilton lock was given a leadership role for his NSW Country debut against Melbourne at Camden on Saturday.
Palmer, in his second full season of first grade, will partner Maitland’s Mick Howell in the second row and has the added responsibility of calling the lineouts.
‘‘Nick was the standout performer at the training camp last weekend,’’ Cockatoos coach Col Jeffs said.
‘‘For a guy so young, the maturity he showed and his ability to get the players together and respond was incredible.
‘‘He really thrived in the environment and hopefully he can carry that on to the field.’’
Fresh from a fifth straight Country title, Newcastle have supplied more than half of the starting side.
Apart from Illawarra halves Tim Small and Ben Greentree, the backline is all Newcastle.
Anthony Barrett, who is in contention for the captaincy, and Lewie Catt are the centres.
The back three is Ben Harriss (fullback) and wingers Pat Kilmurray and Cal McDonald.
Blindside breakaway Corey Te Koeti and hooker Steve Lamont will also start. Prop Damian Winter and five-eighth Brendan Holiday are on the bench.
Va Talaileva was in Samoa and missed the training camp and was not considered.
After Melbourne, Country meet ACT in Canberra (May 4), Queensland Country in Cowra (May 19) and Rockhampton (May 26), Sydney Sub-Districts at Allianz Stadium (June 2) and Sydney in Sydney (June 9).