The Narrandera Junior Lizards attended an open gala day at Leeton on Saturday, gearing the teams up for the biggest year in memory.
“We’ve got 105 kids already signed up so far for this year, and we’ve still got more to sign up. That’s the best year that I can remember,” said Nicole Warren, junior Lizards secretary and coach. “At the gala day, all the clubs get to see who they have, whether they have enough players.
“This year we have a total of 10 teams. We have the girls under 7s, under 9s, under 12s and under 15s, and for the boys we have under 6s, under 8s, under 9s, under 10s, under 12s, and under 13s.”
The competition will officially begin on April 28, after the school holidays.
The Lizards are also celebrating a significant milestone; for the first time, they have enough players to put together an Under 15s girls League Tag team.
“The girls had a game on Saturday against Yenda, who are a pretty good team,” Ms Warren said. “They lost 6-4. Both sides scored a try, and our side just didn’t convert. Some girls were playing for the first time; some girls have had a couple of years off, they played as juniors and they weren’t able to come back in until now. Everyone’s really happy about it.”
Despite a record breaking amount of players this year, the club want to stress that new players are always welcome.
“Anyone interested in playing can come to training and have a look at what we do,” Ms Warren said. “I think some people worry that rugby league is too tough, but there are very strict guidelines to make sure that the kids are being safe and having fun. Kids who don’t follow those guidelines aren’t allowed to play.
“We have to go through a lot of training just to help out as volunteers and coaches.”
Training is held every Thursday at 5pm at Henry Mathieson Oval. Additionally, the club is keen for anyone wishing to help out to come along and volunteer.
“With each team we need to have three volunteer helpers, so anyone who’d like to help out, especially when we have home games – we’ll never turn away a volunteer,” Ms Warren said.
Additionally, the junior Lizards are having a tour of Kapooka Army Base this Friday.
“We’re sending our over 12s, and they can be shown around. It will be good for the kids, as some of them are in the cadets. It will be something different for the kids. John Sullivan organised the trip.”
While it’s wonderful that so many players have signed up for the year, it’s a bittersweet experience for the club. Ian Matthews, or Bulldog as he was more commonly known, was an instrumental part of the Junior Lizards, and it has been hard on the club at times trying to carry on without his help.
“He would have been very happy. We’re expecting a big season this year. He did so much with the club, and so far I think we’re all still adjusting to it,” Ms Warren said.