Mudgee’s touch season might be a fortnight away from starting but the association’s mixed open representative side will be in action this weekend.
For the first time since 2010, Mudgee will compete at the Hornets Regional Championships.
Hornets is the touch football region for clubs in the Hunter and Western areas of NSW.
The region is one of the largest in the state covering from Nelson Bay to the Central Coast, across to Scone and as far west as Cobar.
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About 60 teams will compete in the championships which are being held at Maitland.
In the past, Mudgee has sent several sides to the titles but in 2015 it will just be the mixed open team.
The side is being led by Justin Gossage and includes familiar faces such as Andrew Laurie, Sally Harris, Belinda Bateman and Mitch Squire.
There will also be some new faces in Lala Lautaimi, Tiffany Foley and Sarah Gaffney, who is returning to representative touch for the first time in several seasons.
Mudgee Touch Association spokesman Ben Harris said the Mudcrabs have been preparing for this tournament for a number of weeks.
“They do about two to three training sessions a week including a Sunday session, so they are not treating Hornets as a social event,” Harris explained.
Mudgee has been grouped into pool B and will go up against hosts Maitland Redbacks, Wallsend Wolves and Port Hunter Marauders on Saturday.
Quarter finals, semi-finals and the final will be played on Sunday.
“Wallsend is the team to beat in this group. They are always strong,” Harris said.
“You would have to imagine Maitland, being the home club, would do well. I’m not sure how strong Port Hunter are but you should never underestimate any team.
“In Pool A, Port Macquarie will be difficult as will Newcastle City.”
The Hornets Championships is the starter’s gun of what will be a hotly-contested and cramped representative season.
Next month will be the Western Games in Parkes and the NSW Touch Country Championships in Dubbo.
The NSW Touch State Cup will be held in Port Macquarie from December 4 to 6.
“The Hornets Championships is the first opportunity for many of the sides, not just Mudgee, to try out a few things, to see what works and what they need to improve on before the representative season goes into overdrive,” Harris said.
Meanwhile, the Mudgee touch season is set to begin in early October with more than 100 teams entered across the four competitions – men’s, women’s, mixed and juniors.
“The committee is very happy with the number of teams entered for this season,” Harris admitted.
“We are just finalising a few things before the season begins.”