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It’s been 375 days since the NSW Surf Life Saving Interstate Team last had their hands on the sport’s most prestigious national trophy, and as the team make their final preparations for the 2017 competition there is a sense of quiet optimism in the squad.

The pain of being pipped at the post in Torquay by fierce rivals Queensland last January is seared in the memory of the NSW athletes who will once again put state pride on the line at the Interstate Championships to be staged at Alexandra Headland Beach on Friday.

The 32-strong squad travelled to Queensland yesterday where they will participate in a two-day camp ahead of the one-day representative competition.

New South Wales will field one of their strongest teams in recent memory with plenty of experienced campaigners in both the Open and Youth squads. The 2017 team will field four debutants at this level.

Umina’s Jemma Smith, Lizzie Welborn (North Bondi), Newport’s Max Brooks and Georgia Miller and Manly’s Jay Furniss are all involved in the Nutri-Grain Iron Series, while Rio Olympian Riley Fitzsimmons (Avoca Beach) has also been included.

Many of those in the youth ranks have already made their mark in open competition achieving strong results against their older competitors and certainly won’t be overawed by the challenge of racing Australia’s best.

It’s also the start of new era for the NSW team with this being the first competition without long-serving coach Jeff Mowbray who retired last season. Jim Walker has been handed the reigns for his first campaign in charge.

Team Manager Stephen Marely said there is feeling of determination in the squad. “Coming second last year by just two points is certainly a motivating desire for everyone. No one needs to say it but it’s clear that is a goal and everyone is really looking forward to getting out there and giving a good account of themselves.

“We’ve been watching the surf conditions there doesn’t appear to be much around although there could be some rain. Alexandra Headland is a great beach and we’re really looking forward to racing,” Marely said.

“It’s a quiet a young team but they’ve got all got what I like to call that youth drive. They are all very experienced at match racing and in this type of competition you’ve got to be very tactical as well.”

One of the crucial tactics that will be need to considered is how best to exploit the powerplay. For the third summer each state will be able to nominate one race in the Open and Youth events where all points will be worth double.

In such a close competition these strategies could ultimately play a key role in who is crowned champions.

The 2017 Interstate Competition will be contested at Alexandra Headland Beach, Queensland on Friday 20 January. Action begins from 0800 local time.

2017 NSW Interstate Team

Open Competitors

Kirsty Higginson – Surfers Paradise SLSC/ State of Origin Selection

Blake Drysdale – Newport SLSC

Laura Shorter – Newport SLSC

Taylar Puskaric – Manly LSC

Riley Fitzsimmons – Avoca Beach SLSC

Daniel Collins – Redhead SLSC

Hannah Minogue – Newport SLSC

Max Brooks – Newport SLSC

Lara Moses – Newport SLSC

Jay Furniss – Manly LSC

Georgia Miller – Newport SLSC

William Budd – North Cronulla SLSC

Youth Competitors

Matthew Day – North Cronulla SLSC

Jake Evans – Elouera SLSC

Rachel Wood – Umina Beach SLSC

Matthew Sperring – Warilla-Barrack Point SLSC

Jemma Smith – Umina Beach SLSC

Luke Chaffer – Cudgen Headland SLSC

Ngaire Hadfield – Cronulla SLSC

Justin McMorland – Redhead SLSC

Naomi Scott – Manly LSC

Bradley Woodward – Shelly Beach SLSC

Grace Gurr – Newport SLSC

Lizzie Welborn – North Bondi SLSC

Team Management

Jim Walker – Head Coach

Scott McCartney – Assistant Coach Stephen Marley – Team Manager

Tracey McKinniery – Team Chaperone


Thursday 19 January 2017