After a successful Finals Series the local Rugby Union focus switches to Representative mode tonight when the Northern Territory Mosquitoes host the Australian Services Warriors at Rugby Park from 7.30pm.
Coaches Peter McGrath and Peter Mayo have selected a well-balanced Mosquito line-up with a mixture of youth and experience to take on what should be a fit well drilled outfit.
With several players unavailable due to injury, there are six players in the starting XV plus half of the reserve bench that will be representing the Territory for the first time.
Amongst the debutantes is Casuarina loose forward Vito Di Muro.
Equally at home in the centre or back row Di Muro is an Italian national who represented his country at the 2007 Under 20 World Cup in Belfast and was the Under 18 European Player of the Tournament in 2006.
Alice Springs pair Joel Plummer and Chaz Solomon will both start the match with Plummer partnering Luke Cummins in the centre while Solomon will take one of the wing positions.
Greg Svanfelds will cap off a memorable year of personal accomplishments should he come off the bench during the match.
Svanfelds captained the NT Schoolboys this year and was selected as half-back in the Division II Merit Team at the National Championships and was the NT Rugby Union Rising Star Award winner this year after a stellar season with Palmerston.
Grand Final Winner University will contribute ten players to the squad including Eric Johnston Medallist Robert Butcher at fly-half.
Butcher has been appointed captain of the Mosquitoes for the first time with Prop Eric Erickson vice-captain.
Erickson will have six team mates from Casuarina in the side with him.
The ASRU Warriors are on their first tour of Darwin and are in a three year building phase in the lead up to next year’s International Defence Rugby Championships in England.
The Royal Australian Navy has ten players in the squad on the back of their 31-28 victory over the Army to win the Inter Service Rugby Championships in May.
Since the Championships ASRU have played matches against NSW Suburban and NSW Country losing both matches in torrid encounters.
Despite the inclusion of twelve players representing ASRU for the first time the side will be very competitive with almost all of the squad playing Grade Rugby in strong jurisdictions in Sydney, Brisbane and Canberra with some playing in Grand Finals as recently as last weekend.
Their Captain Tony Luxford is a half back at Randwick while Luke Troy plays Shute Shield in Parramatta’s front row.
Reserve Brad Thomas won’t require much acclimatisation having propped for Casuarina in the Grand Final a fortnight ago.
The Defence Services Gala Day commences at 5.15pm with the Northern Territory Women playing the 1st Brigade Women in a 10-a-side match followed by a NT Presidents XV vs The Brigadiers XV match at 6.00pm.
Kosta Elenis, Tom Barker, Eric Erickson (VC) , Frank Jennings, Toby George, Vito Di Muro, Bobby Nurse, Wise Sekitoga, Mario Counsel, Robert Butcher (c , Smaika Sala’a, Luke Cummins, Joel Plumber, Chaz Solomon, Rhys Mullholland Reserves Wayne Robinson, Ryan Oakley, Jordan Curran, Damien Heath, Hare Winitana, Greg Svanfelds, Isaac Taulelei, Sean Wauchope
Shayne O’Reilly, Peatrie Birney, Luke Troy, Nathan Diedricks, Aaron Louden, Siaka King, James Knight, Alex Brown, Tony Luxford, Robbie Harlow, Sam Brewer, Michael Wallace, Michael Mason, Josh Gray, Daryl Seden Reserves Jarrod Playford, Laurence Burdekin, Brad Thomas, William Halaufia, Keli Fukofuka, Jared Lewthwaite, Trevor Collett, Sam Williamson
The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of NT Rugby.