Three of Northland’s best young Rugby League talent are set to shine in this weekend’s SG Ball Grand Final’ between the Penrith Panthers and the Parramatta Eels.
The SG Ball is the NRL’s U18 competition which kicked off on the 15th of February – after 10 rounds and two weeks of Semi Finals, the Panthers and the Eels will come head to head. For the Penrith Panthers, James Dean Fisher Harris (Marist and Whangarei Boys High) and Hamish Pomare (Muriwhenua and Kaitaia College) are both set to start, while for the Parramatta Eels, Kadince Christensen (Portland Panthers and Whangarei Boys High School) has been named in the squad which has yet to be finalised.
2014 will be Kadince’s second year with the Parrammatta Eels after he signed on with them in 2012, after starring for the Northern Swords 17s and captaining the 2012 NZRL U16s National Team. For James and Hamish this is their first year in the Australian system, after impressing for the Swords 2013 17s Team. Both have been instrumental for the Panthers this year, with James being part of the playing 17 since Feb 15th and Hamish recently winning a starting spot – both Hamish and James scored tries in the Panthers first finals game which was a 44 – 42 loss to the Sydney Roosters and Hamish scored again in the Semi-Final Elimination round to win over the Newcastle Knights 36-28.
Parramatta will go into the final as favourites, after finishing the regular season as Minor Premiers. A lot of their game is based around try scoring machine Tui Oloapu (ex Wellington Orca U15 player), while Penrith, finished the regular season in 4th position.
Alex Smits RLN GM recently caught up with Darryl Mather SFX Player manager who watched the recent semi finals with Phil Gould. In Darryl’s words “Gus Gould is over the moon with the Northland boys at Penrith – James will likely progress to the Penrith Holden Cup U20’s team after the final. It’s a few years away yet but James is an NRL player in the making. Hamish is coming along great. He is a natural footballer who is working on the training side of his game.”
In other news from Penrith – Corey Harawira–Naera who signed with Penrith at the same time as James and Hamish, has been a regular fixture in the Penrith Holden Cup team and recently gained a promotion to starting at Stand Off. “Coreys got a great attitude and work ethic and is playing some good football and gaining the respect of the Panthers coaching staff.” Mather said.
Parramatta Eels Vs Penrith Panthers
St Marys Leagues Stadium, Saturday, May 3
Referee: Kieren Irons