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Defending champions NSW Country flew out of Australia for New Zealand on Wednesday full of confidence that they can again deliver a strong performance when it matters most as the countdown for the 2017 Trans Tasman Series enters its final days.

A 20-strong team will contest the three-meet biennial series against surf athletes from Northern Region (New Zealand) and the Central Coast in what is shaping up to be a closely-fought series.

The Country team won’t be short of talent on sand or in surf with many of its members already in red-hot form this season.

Country rookie Matthew Sperring from Warilla-Barrack Point was delighted when he heard about his selection for the team and is looking forward to joining six club mates on the tour.

“At Warilla you hear about what the experience is like on these types of teams and it is obviously something that you want to be a part of.

“I was ecstatic when I found out that I had made the final squad and it’s doubly special to go on tour with those you train with day in and day out,” Sperring said.

The swimmer and ironman competitor is under no illusions about the challenge that lies ahead and is quietly confident that his preparations are on track about what is shaping up to be an exceptionally busy summer.

“Central Coast will field a very strong team and most of us have raced them before while I know a couple of the Northern athletes from Pool Championships last year and they will be difficult to beat on their home turf.

“I think my preparation has been going well and have just finished a big 4 week block in the pool and surf. I tried not to eat too much over the Christmas period.

“I’m just looking forward to getting over there and meeting up with the rest of the Country team and doing my best to put in a good performance,” he said.

Head Coach Alan Beveridge has been involved in the series since its inception in 2001 and is looking forward to seeing how his charges go on unfamiliar territory.

“We’re actually going for a three-peat as we won the series at home in 2015 and before that we were lucky enough to win in New Zealand last time Northern Region hosted the series.

“I think we’ve got a very strong team with a good mix of experienced athletes who have been involved before as well as a great group of young kids who are quickly coming through the ranks,” said Alan Beveridge.

“It’s funny Scott (current assistant coach Scott McCartney) was just a young athlete with me on one of the very early teams and now he’s sitting there playing an important support role. I think we’re very lucky with the quality of leadership within the team as someone like Nadine Canning is very experienced and can share those lessons with the younger athletes.”

One of the key challenges of touring is bringing together a group of athletes from different clubs to compete for the one goal, and installing that team ethos is something that the coach takes very seriously.

“Once we land in New Zealand our focus will be on building team spirit. This is a unique event where you can watch every race unlike at most surf carnivals, and supporting each other regardless of result is something I am very big on as it builds a strong culture. “I think that if we work hard and perform to the best of our ability there is no reason why we can’t come back with the trophy,” he said.

The 2017 Trans Tasman series will be held at Waipu (January 6), Takapuna (January 9), and Omaha Beach (January 10). Additionally the NSW Country athletes will be competing at the Owen Chapman Carnival on Saturday January 7.

2017 NSW Country Team

Jedd Mitchell (Coffs Harbour SLSC)

Will Jones (Byron Bay SLSC)

Shaylla Young (Cudgen Headland SLSC)

Luke Chaffer (Cudgen Headland SLSC)

Angus Macphail (Cudgen Headland SLSC)

Nadine Canning (Cudgen Headland SLSC)

Brett Willims (Warilla-Barrack Point SLSC)

Matthew Sperring (Warilla-Barrack Point SLSC)

Jack Carberry (Warilla-Barrack Point SLSC)

Jordan White (Warilla-Barrack Point SLSC)

Maddison Prior (Warilla-Barrack Point SLSC)

Tahlia Kollen (Sawtell SLSC)

Caitlin Callahan (Byron Bay SLSC)

Jy Timperley (Byron Bay SLSC)

Anthea Warne (Cudgen Headland SLSC)

Bradley Hunt (Byron Bay SLSC)

Madeleine Bakker (Warilla-Barrack Point SLSC)

Joshua Jones (Cudgen Headland SLSC)

Claudia Crawford (Cabarita Beach SLSC)

Jayde Bagnall (Warilla-Barrack Point SLSC)

Team Management

Alan Beveridge – Head Coach

Dennis Allan – Team Manager

Scott McCartney – Assistant Coach

Jo-Ann Prior – Team Chaperone


Wednesday 4 January 2017