Combined Country coach Cam Blades has announced his 23-man squad for the DHL Australia 2013 Lions Tour match in Newcastle on Tuesday 11 June.
A total of 10 Super Rugby players have been named in the squad alongside four Premier Club Rugby players, five Queensland Country players, and four NSW Country players.
Blades and his coaching staff, which includes NSW Country Coach Col Jeffs, Queensland Country coach Garrick Morgan and Todd Louden, selected the team following the announcement of the preliminary 43-man squad last week.
“We had such a massive pool of players that fitted the criteria,” Blades said.
“Out of the 43 we had to figure out who we thought would be the likely starting fifteen and then had to look at what the bench options would be.
“With Super Rugby still active until we play there still could be some more movement in the squad and so we’ve been very mindful of that.
“We’ve been negotiating with the Super Rugby Clubs about which players will be available.
“Depending on what changes are required going forward there could be a few tricky decisions still to be made.”
With the squad decided, focus now turns to preparing for the match against the Lions at Hunter Stadium with the squad coming together in camp in Newcastle on Thursday 6 June.
“The challenge isn’t just to make the team, the challenge is to take on the Lions and see where we can take it,” Blades said.
“What the Lions can expect is a bunch of blokes who are going to come together with a common goal of absolutely taking the game to them.
“We’ll certainly be going in there to display our skillset while being mindful of trying to shut down a lot of the threats that the Lions possess and give ourselves the opportunity to play a bit of Rugby and see if we can pull off an historic win.”
Blades believes the game between Combined Country and Rugby’s best from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, as part of the DHL Australia 2013 Lions Tour, provides a rare chance to showcase Australian Country Rugby.
“It’s a great opportunity for the guys who are still actively playing in the bush and for those born in the country or have a playing history in the country, whatever playing level they’re at,” Blades said.
“We have plenty of guys in the squad at amateur level who will get the once in a Rugby lifetime chance to pit themselves against professionals that are all hardened Rugby players.
“It’ll be a massive occasion and a massive challenge.
“It’s a good opportunity for them to put their skills on display and see if they can use this game to launch themselves further up the Rugby pathway.
“It’s also a very unlikely occasion, it almost certainly won’t happen again for all of the players, most will never get the chance to play against a touring Lions side again.
“There might be the odd player in the camp whose Super Rugby team may play them in the Tour, but outside of that it will be a once in a lifetime experience for these guys and something I’m sure they’ll cherish.”
Tickets to the highly anticipated DHL Australia 2013 British & Irish Lions Tour match between Combined Country and the Lions are still available from proticket.com.au.
A family of four will able to see one of the world's most iconic sporting teams taking on the best of Australian Country Rugby for just $30.
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A complete list of the 23 members of the Combined Country Squad is below.
Combined Country Squad to play Lions
Rikki Abraham (Qld Country), Dale Ah-Wong (Qld Country), Phoenix Battye (Western Force), Jarrad Butler (Queensland Reds), Lewie Catt (NSW Country), Tom Cox (Brumbies), Tim Davidson (Melbourne Rebels), Trent Dyer (Melbourne Rebels), Blake Enever (Queensland Reds), Dylan Evans (NSW Country), Alex Gibbon (Southern Districts, Sydney), Ben Greentree (NSW Country), Haydn Hirsimaki (Qld Country), Tom Kearney (Qld Country), Josh Mann-Rae (Brumbies), Adam McCormack (NSW Country), Tim Metcher (Southern Districts, Sydney), Angus Roberts (Melbourne Rebels), Beau Robinson (Queensland Reds), Tereta- Junior Siakisini (Qld Country), Michael Snowden (Western Force), Richard Stanford (Eastern Suburbs, Sydney), Nathan Trist (Sydney University)