BELVOIR spinner Zac Simmonds will captain Riverina in the NSW Country Championships at Berry later this week.
Simmonds will lead a young line-up which includes fellow Cricket Albury-Wodonga players Drew Cameron, Neil Smith, Cameron Suidgeest, Nathan and Ryan Brown and Mick Galvin.
Cameron has been appointed vice-captain.
Wagga’s Brayden Ambler, Aaron Maxwell, Luke Gerhard, Lachie Skelly and Nick Grant are also in the side.
“We are required to pick two under-23 players but I’ve gone with five,” first-year Riverina coach Trent Ball said.
“I’d say we will be the youngest team by far.
“NSW Country have to select two under-23 players so we are hoping to fill those spots.”
Nathan Brown is coming off a fine 96 for Lavington against Tallangatta while Suidgeest has impressed with the ball for Wodonga in his first season with the Bulldogs.
Galvin has come into the side late after North Albury skipper Ash Borella withdrew.
Riverina take on powerhouse Newcastle at Berry Sports Complex on Friday, followed by ACT Southern Districts on Saturday.
They will meet Greater Illawarra on Sunday.
“No doubt we will start underdog in every game,” Ball said.
“Newcastle has Nathan Price who plays for Randwick first grade and is in the national indigenous side.
“They will be the team to beat.
“ACT are always strong and its grown into a great rivalry.
“They never show us any respect even though we keep beating them.”
Illawarra has plenty of firepower with prolific runscorer Graeme Batty and Sydney first grade player Brynley Richards selected.
Ball, however, remains unfazed.
“I’m very happy with our side,” he said.
“The boys will get their chance to prove themselves and my aim is for them to come back better cricketers than before they left.
“We will have a crack.”
The winner will take on Central Coast at Bradman Oval later this month.
“That would be pretty special,” Ball said.
“I’m hoping to help some boys get selected into NSW Country.
“I know they are good enough but they need to perform over the three days against high quality opposition.”
Central Coast advanced to the decider on run rate by defeating North Coastal and Western.