NSW Schools: CHS trials head to Dubbo in search of the next big thing

Public school rugby players from around the state are in Dubbo this week playing for a spot in the NSW Combined High Schools sides to play at the NSW Schools trials next month.

The annual tournament, which began in Central West NSW 41 years ago, returns to Dubbo this year for just the second time.

“It’s great for the country kids to come and experience the city but I think its even better for the city kids to get out and experience the country,” CHS rugby convener Ross Dummett told Rugby News.

“A lot of the guys are seeing this part of the world for the first time and they’ve loved it so far.”

More than 240 kids from 12 separate regions will play over three days before the CHS I and CHS II squads are picked to play at the NSW Schools trials.

“We play Combined Catholic Colleges, then we play ISA, then we play the winner of either NSW Country U18s or Sydney U18s before we take on GPS in late June,” Dummett said.

“Out first XV will be a very strong team. We judge our success on how well we go against GPS, they are the benchmark and we want to beat them.”

Dummett said he was quietly confident about CHS’ chances this year and singled out one player who had already caught the eye of selectors.

“Joey Walton from the Central Coast (Wadalba Community High School) is back for his second year after playing Australian Schoolboys last year. He’s an exceptional footballer and he’s already shown his talent at the trials this year.”

While CHS don’t receive as much recognition as their private school rivals, Dummett said his representative sides repeatedly produce quality players who go on to represent NSW and Australian Schoolboys, but admitted more could still be done for the association.

“It’s expensive for kids to take part in our trials, it can cost anywhere from $500-$1000 dollars, then it costs another $400 if they are picked in the CHS side so it would be great to get some support so that more kids have an opportunity to play rugby and trial for our representative teams.”

Despite that, CHS have expanded their program this year and added discovery trial days in regional areas around the state to ensure more players have a chance to be identified.

“It starts at the U16s, which is the base of the pyramid for the CHS program. That’s where we identify a lot of our players and we’ve invested a lot of time into getting that right.

“This year, we expanded the program to include discovery trial days in regional areas so that we gave more kids an opportunity to show what they can do.

“Already we’re starting to see more kids push through from the U16s into the U18s and then hopefully NSW Schools, Australian Schoolboys and ultimately become Waratahs and Wallabies.”

The CHS representative teams will be announced on Friday evening.