Reunion for Country pair

Macquarie's Country hooker, Darren Jackson on the boil for the Raiders against Forbes. Jackson will turn out for Country against Queensland Country at Murwillumbah on Saturday night.
Macquarie's Country hooker, Darren Jackson on the boil for the Raiders against Forbes. Jackson will turn out for Country against Queensland Country at Murwillumbah on Saturday night.

It is "back to Bourke week" for Darren Jackson and coach Scott Mieni at Murwillumbah when the Country senior team gets down to business preparing for a game against Queensland Country on Saturday and then a tour of New Zealand.

Dubbo Macquarie Raiders' hooker Jackson and Mieni, now at Coffs Harbour, are from Bourke and are looking forward to the Country tour.

"I played under Scott at Cobar in 1999 and 2000 and he was around during the 2002 and 2003 seasons, so I am looking forward to being involved with him again in the Country side," Jackson said.

"Scott came down to the Bathurst when we won the Country Divisional Championship and that gave me the chance to talk with him about what can be achieved on our tour.

"He's a very experienced player and coach and I am confident our side will go well under him."

Jackson is one of five Western Division players in the Country squad of 17. He will be accompanied by Kip Miranda (prop, Lithgow Workies), Ben Murphy (second-row, Orange Hawks), Kurt Hancock (bench, Bathurst St Pats) and Warwick Colley (halfback, Mudgee).

"A lot of our success at Western Division level was based on mateship and with a good representation from our winning side away with Country, it will definitely make it much easier," Jackson said.

Leaving Cobar at the end of last season and heading to Macquarie Raiders hasn't hindered the outstanding hooker despite the task of travelling most weekends.

Even though he was half thinking about the tour this week for Country, he still played his heart out when the Raiders thumped Forbes at Apex Oval on Sunday.

His dummy-half work and general running and setting-up play was a feature and the bigger Forbes forwards were found wanting time and time again.

Country on Saturday plays Queensland Country at Murwillumbah and leaves for Auckland on Sunday.

"I haven't been overseas before, so that's one part I'm really looking forward to," Jackson said.

"We have our first game against Auckland on Tuesday and then play a New Zealand A team in Auckland on Saturday July 3.

"The side returns to Sydney on July 5 so in effect, I will miss the Group 11 games against CYMS this weekend and then Cobar the following weekend."

Following Macquarie's 42-4 thrashing of Forbes last weekend, Raiders officials are quietly confident they can create the same mayhem at the expense of premiers CYMS at No 1 Oval on Sunday.

Coach Jim Kelly will finalise his team tonight with Chris Delany likely to wear the No 9 guernsey vacated by Jackson.