If winning a country championship wasn’t enough for Jack Hartwig and the all-counquering Western Rams, knocking off a side considered one of the best, for its age, in NSW might just do the trick.
The Andrew Johns Cup-winning Rams boys head to Mudgee on Sunday for one final hurrah in 2018 having taken out the under 16s country title last month.
That 22-10 victory over South Coast in the Johns Cup final was to be Western’s last game, but with no curtain-raiser scheduled for Sunday’s NRL match between St George Ilawarra and the Canberra Raiders, officials proposed a city versus country style premiers play-off as an enticer to the main event at Glen Willow.
As country champions, Western will take on the NSWRL Harold Matthews Cup premiers, the Manly Sea Eagles.
It’s an opportunity Hartwig, who will skipper the Rams under 16s again, says he’ll definitely savour.
And, as a forward against a monster Manly outfit, it’s a challenge he’s set to embrace.
“I think the whole team can stand up to these guys,” Hartwig said.
“We go as one, there’s no individuals. The whole team will be there and ready to give these guys a shake.”
Hartwig said coach Kurt Hancock had touched on how dominant the Manly forwards were throughout the Sea Eagles’ successful Harold Matthews campaign.
Muscling up against those big boys will be key for Western.
“There’s a big focus on that. They’ll try and do a job on us but we just have to man up and stick with them,” Hartwig added.
“The boys have been looking forward to it, to see where we’re at up against the Harold Matts champs. It’s going to be a real privilege to play them.”
Hancock backed up his skipper’s sentiment.
“Manly are the benchmark of 16-year-old’s in NSW so for us to get better as players we’ve got to go out there, play some attacking footy and see what happens from there,” Hancock said.
Kick-off is at 11.45am.