Western Rams under 16s coach Tony Woolnough has named his starting 17 for this weekend's match against Illawarra in Shellharbour.
A handful of Group 11 talents were selected to play on Saturday with Narromine's Jamari Clarke and Zeke Heterick picked while Cooper Black from Nyngan will line-up in the halves alongside Clarke.
The Rams will start their SLE Andrew Johns Cup campaign with a tough match to start but Woolnough is confident the side can produce a good effort this weekend.
"It's a hard one first up playing the Illawarra Dragons at their home ground but yeah I'm pretty excited," he said.
"We've got a good bunch of kids and we've had limited time to prepare for obvious reasons.
"Everything has been going smoothly, we had a camp on the weekend in Warren and finished everything off so it should be good."
While Woolnough admitted it always tough to leave players out of the starting 17, the Rams mentor knows it has been tougher in previous years due squad sizes.
"Very hard, there is some good players who missed out," he said.
"But it's probably been a little bit easier than in previous years because we've picked squads of 40 to start with but this year we only picked 25."
Due to COVID-19 Woolnough said it was difficult to get the entire squad together even at their camp in Warren over the past weekend but the coach knows they have done enough work to get the job done against the Dragons.
"It's been very tough to get together," he said.
"Even on the weekend it was tough, there were a few kids missing.
"COVID has caused havoc but we had a good hit out on the weekend and just finishing everything off."
With the Andrew Johns Cup only lasting five rounds, every game is extremely important and Woolnough knows from previously how vital is to get off to a strong start.
"To get off to a good start would be good," he said.
"Illawarra in Illawarra, I don't think it gets much tougher. It'll be a good test straight up for our team but I'm pretty confident."
Following the Andrew Johns Cup match, the Western Rams under 18s will also start their Laurie Daley Cup season also against the Illawarra Dragons.
Several Group 11 talents have been selected for the opening round with Dubbo Macquarie's Tyrone Tattersall and Dubbo CYMS' Cooper Ferrari both expected to play a big part in the side this season while Nyngan Tigers winger Fletcher Hunt will also line-up.
The Andrew Johns Cup match will kick-off at 10am on Sunday morning with the Laurie Daley Cup match the follow at Ron Costello Oval in Shellharbour.
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