The Albury Cougars have their strongest presence at the NSW state championships for some time with both the under-12 girls and under-14 boys reaching this year’s main event at Maitland.
Both sides will make the 10-hour journey later in the week and start their campaigns on Friday.
The girls qualified as the highest-ranked NSW team in the Southern Junior League and have been training the past 14 weeks to be ready, while the boys finished runners-up in the Southern Junior League and had to qualify through the Country Championship League.
“We had to finish top-four to be one of the four best country associations to play the four best metro associations,” under-14 boys coach Shane Strang said.
“The team that beat us (Illawarra) in the Southern Junior League also made it, so there’s two from the one league going to the state champs.
“We’re coming up against associations like Newcastle that have 4000 members, where we’ve got 1000 members.
“Both sides are a bit undersized and are coming up against really tall kids, but the grit and tenacity both sides have shown to get there is really good.”
Under-12 girls coach Mathew Whitfield has had a few new faces join the team this year, but has been pleased with their effort.
“We’re blessed that the kids are really coachable,” he added.
The girls take on Penrith Panthers in their first pool game at 5pm on Friday, while the boys face Blacktown West Storm at 8pm.
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