Local teams kick off Sunday action

A local A-Grade game will serve as the curtain-raiser to Sunday's Sharks-Tigers NRL clash at Southern Cross Group Stadium, with a top of the table tussle between the Kurnell Stingrays and De La Salle.

The fixture marks the second time this year a Cronulla-Sutherland Junior League Open Gold Division match has been held before NRL action at Shark Park – the Como Crocodiles and Engadine Dragons played prior to Cronulla's round 11 home win against the Bulldogs.

Multiple famous surnames are set to take the field on Sunday. For Kurnell, Wyndham Peachey – son of Cronulla legend David – is the starting fullback, while Grayson Goodwin - son of St George great Ted and brother of former NRL players Bronx and Bryson – will line up at five-eighth.

De La Salle boasts a myriad of Sharks junior representatives, including Jayden Walker, Ryan Cummins and Isaac Longmuir.

Currently undefeated after nine weeks of the A-Grade competition, De La Salle coach Luke Manahan believes the side will be inspired by the big stage this weekend.

"It's good to see the A-Grade boys get out there and have a go. I think it's awesome to go out and play before the Sharks and show a little bit of the talent that does run out in the A-Grade comp and goes unnoticed," he said.

Manahan considers the Kurnell team to be De La Salle's biggest test so far and said his players cannot afford to clock off.

"We're not trying to overcomplicate things. We haven't played against them yet but Kurnell is one of the older and more mature teams, (while) we're quite a young side," Manahan explained.

"(We need) to stick to our system and do what we've been doing at training – the old clichés."

De La Salle captain Blake Bouzounis said there was a buzz in the air at training this week, as he and his team prepare to play on Southern Cross Group Stadium in front of family and friends.

"It'll be great to see local juniors get a run on Shark Park. It should be a good game with the top teams playing," he said. "It should be a big turnout, hopefully the rain holds off. We're pretty excited."

Containing Kurnell's significant forward pack is imperative if De La Salle is to emerge victorious, stated Bouzounis.

"They're big boys, they've got a really strong pack. We've really got to tighten up our middle and work really hard on our defence."

Meanwhile, Kurnell coach Peter Malone said the Stingrays players will be also buoyed by the opportunity of playing before the NRL Sharks.

"It'll give them a huge lift. We're coming third, De La is coming first, (but) we've got some very good players that have come back to Junior League – a lot of Sharks under-20s players from a while ago," he said.

Malone is certain his side will be well-supported by the fanatical Kurnell community, who travel in droves to A-Grade matches each round.

"Last weekend we had at least 500 people at our game against Engadine ... so the locals will definitely get behind us."

While De La Salle is youthful and quick, Malone believes the Stingrays' experience and sheer size gives them a distinct advantage.

"These blokes are young and we're a bit older. We're going to have to be very good in controlled aggression and line-speed. We've got to get up on them to break down their speed against us, and we've got to be very disciplined.

"If we can do that I'm confident we can beat them, because I think they'll be a bit frightened of our size compared to theirs."

The gates at Southern Cross Group Stadium open at 11:30am, with the De La Salle v Kurnell match kicking off at 11:35am.

Teams for both clubs are listed below:

De La Salle
1. Blake Bouzounis (c)
2. Ryan Cummins
3. Christian Ruhen
4. Tyler McIlroy
5. Billy Lennon
6. Harry Bardsell
7. Sam Cooper
8. Patrick Hasson
9. Matthew Andrews
10. Blake Osgood
11. Nathan Fletcher
12. Andrew Faddy
13. Jordan Bichan
Interchange
14. Isaac Longmuir
15. Jack Cullen
16. Jayden Walker
17. Joey Chisholm
18. Jack Phillips
19. Connor McDonald
20.Thomas Aquilina
Coach – Luke Manahan

Kurnell Stingrays
1. Wyndham Peachey
2. Shequille Tewao
3. Te Oranga Hina
4. Mas Pure
5. Kurt Douglas
6. Grayson Goodwin
7. Dane Malone
8. Matt Emery
9. Terry Isherwood
10. Jacob Wood
11. Jeremy Saville
12. Liam Creen
13. Jason Hughes
Interchange
14. Mikaere Patea
15. Rewi Jye Brown
16. Phil Shaw
17. Zeek Mathews
18. Ray Haruki
19. Morris Higham
20. Wade Mathis
Coach – Peter Malone