Six Hunter women, three youngsters named in NSW Sevens national championship squads

OLD HANDS: Brydie Parker, Hannah Southwell and Layne Morgan already have representative experience in spades for rugby sevens. Sarah Halvorsen, Mel Howard and Cheech Baker also named. Picture: Marina Neil
OLD HANDS: Brydie Parker, Hannah Southwell and Layne Morgan already have representative experience in spades for rugby sevens. Sarah Halvorsen, Mel Howard and Cheech Baker also named. Picture: Marina Neil

SIX Newcastle Hunter players have been named in the NSW Sevens representative squads for the Women’s Opens at the National Championships in November and December.

Sarah Halvorsen, Mel Howard and Cheech Baker have been included as part of the 32 player squad that was announced by NSW Rugby Union on October 29.

The local contingent slated to represent NSW is also boosted by Commonwealth Games representatives Brydie Parker, Hannah Southwell and Layne Morgan.

Layne Morgan.

Layne Morgan.

The Newcastle Hunter area also has two representatives in the 33 player team list for the Under 17s Youth Girls, with Emma Bradford named at 4 and Jorja Holden named at 17. Jessie Southwell was named as a development player.

Although the region has no entries in the Men’s Open division at the championship, they also have players named in the Under 17s Youth Men’s team – Caleb Hopping has been selected from Merewether High School, and Jacob Rabai has been selected from Irrawang High School.

Central Coast also has an Under 17 selection in Lachlan Shelley from Green Point Christian College.

Hopping, Rabai and Shelley will be eager to prove their merits in the squad, with the Under 17s team preparing for their title defence after winning the Youth Cup in 2016.

Jacob Rabai and Caleb Hopping with the State Championship Sevens trophy.

Jacob Rabai and Caleb Hopping with the State Championship Sevens trophy.

NSW Rugby Coach Education and Pathways Manager, Matt Evrard, was impressed with the talent pool that the rep squads could draw after seeing the NSW State Championships and the Central Coast Sevens competitions.

“These are the first selected squads for the 2017 National Championships for youth and senior age groups,” he said. “These teams have been selected from a number of identified selection tournaments all around the state, with the Central Coast being the last one.”

“Over the coming weeks, these squads will prepare to win as many national titles across the different divisions but more importantly, get as many players identified for Youth Commonwealth Games and National Senior team selection.”

The final opens squad – to be named before the event – will travel to Bendigo for the Senior National Championships from November 25.

The youth national competition, which will also have its squads reduced, will be held in Ballymore, Brisbane from December 9.

STEP: Mel Howard, named in the extended squad, puts on the after-burners at the Australian Uni Games.

STEP: Mel Howard, named in the extended squad, puts on the after-burners at the Australian Uni Games.