Kurri Bulldogs: representative selectors have 'dudded' us

OVERLOOKED: Jarred Anderson was one of a handful of in-form Kurri players who failed to win favour.
OVERLOOKED: Jarred Anderson was one of a handful of in-form Kurri players who failed to win favour.

The high-flying Cessnock Goannas have nine players in the Newcastle representative team, while the Kurri Bulldogs have none - and they're not happy.

"We've been dudded, simple as that," Bulldogs club president Mick Alchin said. "I don't mean any disrespect to Cessnock - good luck to them, they've been playing great - but how can we have no players in?

"What about Mitch Cullen, or Jarred Anderson or my young bloke Reed Alchin? They've been playing some top football. Our winger Barry McGrady has been killing them every week.

"I can't understand it."

Certainly the Bulldogs have been in impressive form, with wins in two of their three matches after their first match of the season - a home game against Maitland - was postponed because of the state of the ground.

"I can only assume that postponed game meant we've had a week less to impress the selectors," Alchin said. "But Maitland still got a few players in, so I'm not sure that's right either."

Goannas coach Todd Edwards is delighted by his side's representation, but acknowledges it comes with a down side.

"It's great for the guys, I don't want to stand in their way of playing rep football," he said.

"But it puts a bit of a target on our backs. It used to do it with Wests in previous seasons when they dominated the rep teams."

After winning last season's Newcastle competition, and being undefeated this season after four rounds, the target on Cessnock's back is big enough anyway. But there's also the workload at play.

With Wyong and The Entrance playing in Newcastle this season, the competition has increased to 18 rounds. Throw in two tough representative games on top of that, and it's a tough season.

"I just hope our guys come through unscathed," Edwards said.

Cessnock's nine players are Gerome and Denzell Burns, AJ Davis, Tyrone Roberts-Davis, Wyatt Shaw, Connor Kirkwood, Billy Gilbert and Robert Tuliatu, with Josh Griffiths a late call-up.

Maitland and Macquarie picked up three positions each, Central got two while Wests, Wyong and The Entrance nabbed one apiece.

"It's fairly reflective of how the sides have been going," Rebels coach Aaron Watts told the Newcastle Herald. "Cessnock have been fairly dominant."

They certainly were again on the weekend, accounting for Lakes 30-nil.

For an away game and in wet, difficult conditions, Edwards was delighted.

"I thought we were enormous," Edwards said. "We'd spoken after the Maitland win that we needed to keep our standards up and not ease off, and they did that. We were without Reed Hugo injured, and Billy Gilbert was away, so it was a strong effort all round."

Kurri too are building nicely, accounting for Wests 14-10.

RECOGNISED: Giant prop Robert Tuliatu (top) is one of nine Cessnock players named in the representative squad.

RECOGNISED: Giant prop Robert Tuliatu (top) is one of nine Cessnock players named in the representative squad.

"It was a good win," Alchin said. "We were really good in the first half, completing our sets and scored a couple of good tries.

"After the beak it became very wet and was a bit of a slogfest. It was good to win it because we were involved in a couple of those matches last season where it was a real grind in difficult condition and lost them.

"So this was a big win. I think we're just starting to hit our straps and a couple of our combinations are starting to come together.

"Our defence was very good, too. Wests only scored the one try and that was from a kick."

The effort was even more impressive considering the Bulldogs were down on troops with centre Jarred Anderson, reliable forward Ben Wyborn and winger Ethan Niszczott all unavalable.

On top of that fullback Nathan Ross sat out again with a calf injury and will probably return in two weeks.

"At this stage we're looking at him returning against Cessnock, but we're not going to rush things," Alchin said.

"We've worked on improving our depth but we were severely stretched on the weekend. Our lower grades were beaten because we had players stepping up. But to beat Wests at any time is a good win."

This weekend Kurri meet second placed Macquarie at Toronto, Cessnock are at home against Wyong and Maitland are away to Lakes.