Bears guns Joey Hobby and Nick Tilburg will begin their push for a place in Cameron Greenhalgh’s Western Rams under 18s outfit when the green and whites host Parramatta on Saturday.
The Eels’ senior talent squad – which will include a large portion of western Sydney juggernaut’s under 18s SG Ball squad – will travel to King George Oval for the clash.
Coach Cameron Greenhalgh has retained some familiar faces in the 18s side but is looking forward to seeing what the new faces will bring this year.
“We had a training run on Saturday in the hot conditions and we’ve nearly got our team finalised now. The boys seem really keen for this game,” the Forbes-based mentor said.
“I’ve got the good nucleus from last year back. The whole back row which took us to the final is here again. In the front row the options are still open, but there’s new players in those positions and I’m looking forward to seeing what they can do.
“In the halves I’m trying a few different combinations and in the outside backs we’ve made some changes and seen some new faces there.”
The Eels squad is also somewhat of a mystery to Greenhalgh and his team.
“They’ll be well-drilled, obviously because they’re part of the extended Parramatta Eels SG Ball squad. I expect them to be big, mobile, relatively fit and with good structure,” he said.
“I always look for a few trial games before making our final Rams squad and Parramatta were willing to do that for us, and to have it out at Blayney as well is great.”
Also taking to the field this weekend will be the Western Rams 17s development squad at Leichhardt Oval against the Balmain Tigers 17s development side.
The Dave Elvy-coached Rams squad is stacked with talent, including young Blayney’s Brad Baker and Pat Duggan.
Greenhalgh said his 18s need to keep on their toes with an eager group of Rams 17s waiting in the wings.
“Barring injury most of the guys taking to the field this weekend will be in with a good chance of making the final squad,” he said.
“If the guys put their hand up over at Leichhardt though then they’ll also be putting their hand up for selection.”
A 30-strong Rams under 18s group – split into two sides – went down by 28 points in its recent trial against Manly’s SG Ball unit.
Saturday’s match gets underway from 12pm at King George Oval.