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Campese itching to turn tables on City

True Blue Terry Campese moves up into the role of head coach of the CABE Country Men’s Open Age team this weekend as he continues his mentoring journey in the representative arena.

Then again, he’s kept his boots handy despite leaving first grade at the end of 2016 after 139 NRL games for the Canberra Raiders and 26 in Super League for the Hull-Kingston Rovers.

Campese was captain-coach of the Monaro Colts, helping them to an 18-16 victory over the Illawarra South Coast Dragons to win the 2021 Men’s Country Championships.

Currently the 37-year-old is captain-coach of the Queanbeyan Blues, but he’s interested in exploring the coaching arena a little further.

He was assistant to former NSW Origin back-rower Beau Scott with Country last year and takes up head coaching duties this time.

Brett Cook is head coach of the City team when the two sides lock horns at Leichhardt Oval on Sunday – the match being live streamed on NSWRL TV.

Last year’s match went City’s way 38-12 so Campese is itching to reverse that scoreline.

“We definitely want that win but I also want the boys just to enjoy every moment,” Campese said.

“I hope they’re able to leave their work lives and personal lives behind and get to know what a rep camp feels like and how different that environment is to playing in a club team.

“There’s plenty of guys who haven’t been involved in Country-City before.”

Helping Campese put the game plan together on a short four-day preparation is the fact he’s got six players – three from the Northern Rivers Titans and three from the Illawarra Dragons – who played in last month’s Men’s Country Championships Grand Final. The Dragons won 26-16.

“The halves Jake Brisbane (Dragons) and Tony McIntosh (Titans) are with me and they both played so well throughout that tournament,” Campese said.

Both fulbacks from that final are also there – Oliver Regan (Titans) and Donte Efaraimo (Dragons) – adding to the attacking weapons at Campese’s disposal.

“I also have some ex-NRL players like Zac Saddler (Manly) and Darby Medlyn (Raiders) and a couple of Queensland Cup and NSW Cup players,” he said.

“So, I’ll be relying heavily on those guys for their experience.

“I do have guys from the Country team last year and some club connections as well so I’ll just get them together and they can come up with what they’re comfortable in doing in both attack and defence.

“I don’t want to change things too much but use the knowledge these players have among themselves.

“From the rep teams I’ve been involved in, it’s best to keep it nice and simple and get to know everyone as soon as possible.”

Campese said the value of Country-City was not only seen on the day but when players went back to their clubs.

“They learn so much from camp-style football and pass that onto other teammates,” he said.

“Last year as well a few guys were picked up by NSW and Queensland Cup sides, so they get that opportunity to further their careers.”

Acknowledgement of Country

New South Wales Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.