Baker brother and sister lead touch charge
By CRAIG ROSScraigr@gladstoneobserver.com.au
SIBLINGS Matthew and Megan Baker will soon be followed by a sizeable contingent of fellow Gladstone players at the National Touch League championships in Coffs Harbour.
The Bakers are already in Coffs Harbour where, yesterday, they opened their NTL campaigns with the South Queensland Rustlers men's and women's under-20 sides respectively.
Matt's side was yesterday off to a good start, defeating Sydney Rebels 16-0 and drawing with Sydney Mets 3-3. After two games Matt already boasted four touchdowns.
Megan's outfit was doing it tougher, losing to Southern Suns (NSW) 5-2 and the Hunter Western Hortnest 3-1.
The teenagers have served as a vanguard for 17 additional Gladstone players who will represent Rustlers in senior age division NTL competition beginning on Tuesday.
Gladstone is also represented in the refereeing ranks with level six referee Dale Lawrence and level five pair Russell Hendry and Jamie Oliver already at the championships, officiating in under-20 and open men's, women's and mixed competition.
They will be joined by Terry Toney (level four) and Kaye Doessel (three) who will officiate in the age divisions next week.
Gladstone members of the Rustlers sides have trained intensively for the championships under the guidance of Gladstone coach Frank Larose.
'We've mainly been doing physical work ? a lot of running and endurance work,' Larose said. "As we got closer to the (NTL) we've done more sprint work and a lot of ball work.
'We've trained three times a week since Christmas (and) trained before Christmas as well.
'You have to have the endurance (because) the Sydney teams are very good and the Brisbane teams are good.'
Larose said voluntary midweek and weekend training sessions were well-attended, reflecting the enthusiasm of the Gladstone players involved.
Included in the Rustlers ranks are sisters Kay Kirkman, AnnMaree Stewart, Toni Grant and Jill Mathison.
Rustlers players will also vie for spots in Australian representative teams with Matt Baker and Fiona White expected to be strong chances.
Gladstone's Rustlers representatives ? Matthew Baker (u/20 men), Megan Baker (u/20 women), John Linden (o/30m), Jill Mathison, Fiona White (o/30w), Darren Kuskopf (o/35m), Toni Grant (o/35w), Graham Lehmann, Kevin Cridland, Graeme Turner, Allan Hiley (o/40m), Sharon Thomsen, Ann-Maree Stewart, Kay Kirkman, Kay Daniels, Bernadette Lawson (o/40w), Frank Larose, Neville Beckman (o/45m), John Curran (o/50m).