Four Mittagong Lions juniors will represent their club with pride when they pull on the Wests Tigers jersey in 2022.
Under 18 players Raiden Crowe, Joe Eccleston and Jasper Tinson as well as Under 16 centre Adam Iaali have been selected in Tigers junior sides with Crowe named in the S.G. Ball Cup (U18) and Tinson, Eccleston and Laali in the Harold Matthews Cup (U16) outfits.
The players will represent the Tigers in the Andrew Johns and Laurie Daley Cups and Wests Magpies in the above mentioned leagues.
Juniors President Tim Murphy said it was pleasing to see so many players rewarded for their efforts during the curtailed 2021 season.
"The boys have shown a great deal of commitment and, obviously, talent to get there," he told the Southern Highland News.
"It's good to see that kids from the southern part of the Wests Tigers catchment are still making an impact on the representative teams over different age groups as well.
Making the selections even more special is the fact all four players have been with the club for almost a decade with Murphy even coaching Crowe and Tinson over the years.
"They've been developed for almost 10 years virtually ever since they joined the club when they were Under 6's or 7's," he said.
"All three of the boys have been playing football for that long. I coached Raiden when he was a really young bloke. Adam and Jasper, they came to us from other areas but have been with the club for over eight years.
"There's probably four or five different coaches for all of the boys who have imputed. Many hours from committee members as well just honing special parts of their game."
Murphy said the boys all possessed different strengths and will watch with great interest if their performances warrant promotions to senior sides in 2022.
"Adam is a centre, he can also play fullback and out on the wing but he's an out and out centre," he explained.
"He's got speed to burn, a try scoring machine there for a couple of years which is great. Jasper's a prop, he's in the engine room all day doing his best, taking the hard hit-ups to gain those crucial metres so the backs have a bit of room to play with.
"Joe is a hooker and stepped up to the Under 18's from the 16's for a few games and ended up being best on ground a number of times.
"Raiden has developed over the years. He's been in the rep scene for a little while but he started as a centre/winger, transformed into a beautiful fullback and I've even seen him play in the back row in the second row or lock position in the last couple of years, just to fill in a void.
"Raiden's got beautiful footwork, a lot of speed and if he's on the end of a backline there's no one chasing him down, he's got that much pace."
"Next year I dare say the seniors club will be looking to bring him up and give him a few runs, probably in reserve grade. It's one of those things where our pathways program between the juniors and seniors, we try to blood them but not too early.
"Jasper and Joe will be moving up into the Under 18's team alongside Raiden as well and Adam will be playing in the Under 16's which is the pinnacle of the junior comp.
"He'll be eligible when he turns 16 to actually back up into that 18's team as well so there is a chance all four boys might be playing in the same team at one stage."
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