NSW Country Cockatoos v QLD Country Heelers: Six players to watch
Queensland Country is gunning for its third consecutive Battle of the Border Cup at Goondiwindi on Saturday afternoon, while the NSW Country Cockatoos are looking to hoist the trophy for the first time since 2015.
The Heelers have claimed the trophy thanks to last-gasp tries in both of the last two years, but after an undefeated tour of New Zealand they’re brimming with confidence and look to be red-hot favourites heading in to the 2018 edition.
While there’s no doubting the ability across both sides, there is a handful of players to keep your eye on.
NSW COUNTRY COCKATOOS
KEVIN McNAMARA (Prop)
A bookend from the Central Coast, McNamara has been around the Cockatoos’ camp for a while but has truly cemented his spot in 2018. Excellent at scrum-time and as dynamic with ball in hand as any NSW Country forward.
CHRIS LOGAN (Fullback)
Was overlooked for Newcastle-Hunter’s side but was handed a second chance with Mid North Coast, and he impressed at country week. He’s impressed Thomas since being named for the Cockatoos too, and NSW Country’s coach pointer to Logan’s running game – particularly on the counter – as his real strength.
BEN DAMEN (Five-eighth)
Not much to say about the Far North Coast star that hasn’t already been said. Cockatoos coach Mat Thomas calls him Mr Consistency, and his level head is a huge advantage for any side that’s lucky enough to boast him somewhere through the backline.
QUEENSLAND COUNTRY HEELERS
TOM VINSON (Halfback)
From Townsville’s Teachers West club, Vinson’s been at this level before and knows what he’s doing. He’s quick, he’s elusive, he communicates well and his service is exceptional – everything you could want in a half basically. Returned from a knee injury in the Heelers’ tour of New Zealand.
SAM TWEEDY (second row)
Queensland Country is a real family affair for Tweedy. His father Rob and his uncle Richard both played for the Heelers in their time and his brother James played at the under-19 level too. A Goondiwindi Emu, Saturday’s clash gives him a chance to wear Heelers colours in front of his home crowd, the big second-rower won’t miss that opportunity to shine.
JOSH FLETCHER (Five-eighth)
Fletcher directed traffic in North Queensland’s country championship win and retained his spot in the Heelers side too, considering his combination with Vinson stretches all the way back to the club level, there’ll be no lack of familiarity in Queensland Country’s halves and that’s a massive advantage against a side that has only played together once.