NORTH Coast Bulldogs coach Dan Kemp has settled on a 25-man squad who will represent the area in the Laurie Daley Cup which kicks off in mid-February.
The under-18 statewide competition sees 12 teams competing including Western Rams, Northern Rivers Titans, Illawarra South Coast Dragons, Monaro Colts and Riverina Bulls.
Newcastle Knights, Parramatta Eels, Penrith Panthers, Central Coast Roosters, Greater Northern Tigers and the Greater Southern Region Tigers.
The North Coast Bulldogs are selected from players covering an area from Forster to Grafton.
Port Macquarie Sharks trio Aston Pollard, Joe Lewis and Ben Brennan have made the final cut alongside Port City Breakers sextet Tyreese Dungay, Ty-Jesse Brabant, Josh Power, Corey Lewis, Dan Cheeseman and Ryan Malony.
The team will start three weeks of full training before a December 19 trial against the Central Coast Roosters.
"They've all been impressive," Kemp said.
"The training across the program has been first-class and exceeded expectations. I set the bar pretty high for them and they've responded really well.
"The training has been first-class and exceeded expectations. I set the bar pretty high for them and they've responded really well."North Coast Bulldogs under-18 coach Dan Kemp
"But we're still a long way away from picking a team in either the Johns (under-16) or Daley (under-18) Cup teams, they're all fighting for positions in the 17."
With the Group 2 competition falling victim to the COVID-19 pandemic this season, Kemp said there were a number of players who made the squad that hadn't played a game in more than a year.
"Some of the boys from up north won't have played a real game of footy for 12 months by the time the competition starts so it's a credit to them to have made the cut."
Kemp and assistant coach Ben Stewart are confident they have selected a side that is well balanced across a number of positions.
"We're not too heavy in one position; it's a balanced squad so with a bit of luck we'll have a very decent team," the coach said.
"It's been incredibly difficult to pick 25 because there are some very good, young men who won't be in the squad.
"That's what you want."
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