The country’s best rugby players are set for a showdown when the National Rugby Championship makes its way to Armidale and locals will have the chance to cheer on one of their own.
Glen Innes’ Alex Newsome is expected to line up for the NSW Country Eagles when they face the Canberra Vikings for the third competition round at Bellevue Oval on Saturday. The Eagles are still searching for a win with the runners up succumbing to the Greater Sydney Rams and the Fijian Drua in their opening encounters.
It’s the second season Newsome has lined up for the NSW Country side and “can’t wait” to get out and put on a show in front of a home crowd.
“It is probably the closest professional game I will ever get to play to my home town. I have a lot of family around the Glen Innes and Armidale region so I can't wait to go out and play in front of them,” he said.
“I am really enjoying being back in the NRC and playing for the Country Eagles, I am quite proud of this team so I am looking forward to playing in front of a home crowd.”
Newsome lined up in the Super Rugby competition this year for Western Force and said it was an eye opener for him.
He hoped the experience of playing and training alongside the world’s best can add up to an even better NRC season for him.
“From a footy side of things, all the little things that come with being in a professional environment every day, from the training and playing intensity to the little recovery things you have to do to get your body right, it is just a lot of the things you pick up by being around some of the best in the game,” he said.
“Last year the NRC was a step up for me from club rugby and it was all about trying to put my best foot forward and trying to get noticed from a professional team.
“Coming through that and playing super rugby this year and now coming back to the NRC, I am a bit more familiar with the competition and probably a bit more confident than I was last year so I am really looking forward to contribute as best I can to the Country Eagles.”
The Vikings have won one game and lost one this season and with the winless-Eagles hosting their first home game for the season, Newsome hopes the Northern Tablelands supporters will cheer his side to a win.
“They [Canberra] will be a big challenge but hopefully the home ground advantage will get us over the line. I hope there's a big turnout, I have got mates that go to the university colleges just next door and my cousins play junior rugby locally so I am hoping there's a good community turnout,” he said.
“Come and enjoy it, it is a good atmosphere and it is probably the highest level of rugby that will get to Armidale so welcome everyone to come along and experience it and get behind us.”