After 20 years, players in the George Tooke Shield finally have an opportunity to play representative football once again.
Last week, Canberra Region Rugby League announced that it was forming two teams made up of the best of the GTS men's and women's competitions.
They will play this weekend in matches against Woodbridge Cup representative teams selected from Riverina and Group 10.
Two Crookwell She Devils players have been named in the final team for the Ladies League Tag side: Jayde Della and Annie Croker.
Both Della and Croker are no strangers to representative duties, but the former said news of her selection was "a bit of a shock" regardless. The selectors based their decisions on form in the George Tooke Shield games, meaning the players knew nothing until they saw their names in the squad list.
"I'm really looking forward to it, it'll be a great experience to play with a lot of the other girls from the other clubs," Della said.
"I'm a little bit nervous, but it should be good. I'm excited to learn a few new things off a lot of the older players in the team."
The coach of the GTS League Tag side, Jason Pollard, has long been involved with the Harden Hawkettes. Green Devils president and women's coach, Paddy Lenane, said Pollard would have known of both Della and Croker from their performances in previous seasons.
"Jason has seen these two girls play for the last five years and he knows what they're like," Lenane said.
"He's going off the reputation that they've had as standout players, and they were the go-to girls as far as our team is concerned."
The GTS League Tag side is dominated by players from the Hawkettes, who have seven players in the team, along with three from the Cootamundra Bulldogs, two each from Crookwell and the Bungendore Tigerettes, and one from the Boorowa Roverettes.
The news of Della and Croker's selections was great not just for the team, Lenane said, but Crookwell as a whole.
"Them getting picked is just awesome, it's recognition that we have got players of representative standard," Lenane said.
"Annie and Jade have played in previous rep sides, it's a really good boost for a rural town."
Along with their collective decade of playing experience, Lenane said the Crookwell pair will bring invaluable leadership skills to the team.
"Annie's one of our captains this year, and she's a very good leader. She's a primary school teacher in training, so that's where that comes from," he said.
"Jayde leads by example. She's a strong player, strong runner, and the girls look at them as leaders in the team."
Now that a representative team has been re-established, Lenane hopes it will allow regional sides to retain their talented players who often leave due to a lack of high-level opportunities.
"It's pretty hard in a lot of country teams to get picked in teams like that because they've got to travel," he said.
"Now that it's coming to your home town, it'll draw a lot more country players to these sorts of rep games for lower divisions, instead of just the higher divisions.
"There's a lot of country players that should be playing in higher grades but they never get the chance. I think it's a great idea."
The matches between the GTS sides and Woodbridge Cup teams will be played this Saturday, May 15, at McLean Oval in Harden.
The league tag match will begin from 1.15pm, to be followed by the men's match at 2.30pm.
Because of the rep games, this round will be a bye in both George Tooke Shield divisions, with matches to resume on May 22.
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