Greater Northern Tigers' women's squad announced

BACK AGAIN: Glen Innes duo Sarah Byrne and Amelia Tunamena were standouts in the trial for the Greater Northern Tigers women's team.
BACK AGAIN: Glen Innes duo Sarah Byrne and Amelia Tunamena were standouts in the trial for the Greater Northern Tigers women's team.

"Very good, very strong, very exciting."

Those were the words of Greater Northern Tigers coach Mick Schmiedel after announcing a 25-strong squad for the coming NSWRL Women's Country Championships.

Trials were in Tamworth on Friday, the Greater Northern selectors narrowed down the squad and Schmiedel is "very keen" to see what they can do after missing out on playing the semi-finals last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"Considering we have some unfinished business regarding last year, we were one of two teams that were undefeated," he said.

"We sat at the top of the table because we had a better for and against.

"We had a better attack and a better defence so we sat at number one.

"Then the semi-finals got canned.

"We want to be holding the trophy when it is all done and we didn't get the opportunity to do that."

All 25 players will have the chance to earn a starting spot with a trial against Newcastle on February 13.

Schmiedel believes narrowing down the squad again to a team of 18 will cause headaches.

"I think we are in a very good position," Schmiedel said.

"Fourteen of the girls from last year's 20 put their name down for selection again and I think all of them have gone through.

"We are probably fortunate a lot of the girls that were there last year are again in the squad so that makes our preparation a little bit easier.

"I don't want to be disrespectful to last year's team but I think it will be stronger than last year's team.

"The reason I think we are going to be stronger is because I think the bench will be stronger.

"The bench we are looking at will be versatile."

A handful of newcomers to rugby league, but experienced rugby 7s players also put their hands up to trial.

Schmiedel was impressed with the code hoppers and, based on their potential, couldn't leave them out of the squad.

"A couple of of them when really well; Hannah Crisp and Anastasia Martin both went very well," he said.

"At times they were a little bit lost because it was a different game but they are certainly in line for selection.

"They will really benefit from our training days from positional stuff."

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Schmiedel also said returnees to the squad, and his leadership group, including Amy Barraclough, Amelia Tunamena, Gaynor Blackadder and Kate Brown were standouts in the trial.

Another player who left an impression, after missing out on selection in the 2020 squad, was Glen Innes' Sarah Byrne.

"She has come back with a good attitude and she has come back a better player," Schmiedel said.

"I am super happy for her that she has got back in the squad because she has obviously gone away and done a bit of work.

"I am super proud of Sarah because I have known her quite a while and she has worked hard to get back into the squad."

In addition to the 25 players who will all have a chance at making the starting line-up for the Country Championships, three development players - Jayne-Lee Averillo, Taryniece Berry and Lucy Plowman - have been invited to train alongside the squad.

"We have invited them to come along, it is their decision whethey they want to come or not.

They will be treated as members of the squad.

"They are not quite there yet, it is about their development for next year or the next couple of years [but] they weren't too far from the mark."

Squad:

Caitlin Aubrey

Jess Baker

Amy Barraclough

Gaynor Blackadder

Shai Blackadder

Sarah Byrne

Kate Brown

Chloe Bayley

Lenikki Craigie

Hannah Crisp

Toni-Lee Clough

Tanika Darcy

Brooke Davis

Brooke Doyle

Nautica Eather

Anastasia Martin

Jess Morgan

Brooke O'Halloran

Shae Pemberton

Hannah Rando

Amber Russell

Abby Schmiedel

Sarah Stewart

Amelia Tunmena

Annie Wenner

Development Players: Jayne-Lee Averillo, Taryniece Berry and Lucy Plowman

This story A 'very strong' Greater Northern squad to take on women's Country Championships first appeared on The Armidale Express.