Fresh of clean-sweeping the southern conference of the Junior State Cup last week, Orange Thunder’s young guns have been rewarded with its highest representation ever in the Hunter-Western NSW Hornets junior regional touch squads.
Backing up the club’s best junior representative touch season to date and an overflowing trophy cabinet, a whopping 40 players were selected in the Hornets’ initial squads, which were picked over the course of multiple tournaments in 2018 and 2019.
Orange had players selected in every age group, from under 12s to 18s for both boys and girls.
Orange Thunder representative director Joel Begnell says it’s the largest number of players picked in the club’s history.
“In recent years we’ve had a handful of players make the squads and then a few players make the final team,” he said.
“Last year we saw an increase in players make the squads, but to climb to 40 this year is phenomenal.”
Begnell puts this increase solely down to the improved junior touch program implemented at the club.
“The past few years our club has started our junior touch academy program, as well as increased the number of high quality tournaments our rep teams have attended,” he said.
“All of this along with the commitment of our rep coaches has contributed to our clubs recent success and increase in players making these elite squads.”
The highest number of players in a single junior regional squad was nine players in the under-12 girls, which Begnell coaches, followed by the eight players in the girls’ under-16 division and seven in the boys’ under-14s.
Begnell is confident that the final junior regional teams, which be selected after trials this weekend, will have a strong Orange flavour to them.
“Our players have performed exceptionally this season against their regional counterparts and whilst the trial will be a tough challenge, I think Orange Thunder players will feature strongly in the final teams,” he said.
The squads head to Wallsend to be finalised, with the final sides representing Hunter-Western NSW Hornets at the NSW Touch Football Junior Regionals tournament on 13-14 July in Orange.
This tournament will also be featured in Orange in 2021.
Orange Thunder players selected in Hunter-Western NSW Hornets junior regional squads:
- UNDER-12 BOYS: Lochie Bohringer, Mitchell French, Riley Hoad, Taj Jordan
- UNDER-12 GIRLS: Layla Barrett, Haylee Besant, Lilly Clarke, Ava Cole, Jayanna Dixon, Chloe Marsh, Miah Naden, Mya Simmons, Keeley Thornhill
- UNDER-14 BOYS: Nate Davis, Kaydden Hoad, Casson Macdonald, Isaiah Magnus, Sam Wilson, Jye King, Jack Dean
- UNDER-14 GIRLS: Georgie Barrett, Hope Gibson
- UNDER-16 BOYS: Jack Cole, Oliver Connaughton, Jacob French, Lachlan Lawson
- UNDER-16 GIRLS: Sophie Banks, Josie Clarke, Emily Irwin, Savannah-Lee Moore, Jesyca Pearson, Caitlin Prestwidge, Hailey Prestwidge, Rebecca Prestwidge
- UNDER-18 BOYS: Ben Blimka, Rhys French, Andrew Millan, Mitchell Watts
- UNDER-18 GIRLS: Lara Clarke, Ella Robins