NSW Country Championships: CRL Newcastle coached by Wests Tigers premiership winner Daniel Fitzhenry

LEAD: Newcastle second-division under-23 coach Daniel Fitzhenry scoring a try for the Wests Tigers against Canberra at Campbelltown in 2006. Picture: Craig Golding With family in both Macksville and Sydney, Daniel Fitzhenry landed atAdamstown around 12 months ago as the best place between.

Now the Wests Tigers premiership winner has taken the reins of the Newcastle Hunter Rugby League under-23 squad kicking off their maiden NSW Country Championship campaign this weekend.

The 38-year-old, who scored 44 tries in 137 NRL appearances for the Tigers featuring the 2005 grand final, accepted the job after being approached by Country Rugby League regional area manager Keith Onslow.

“I didn’t expect it,” he said. “I’d beencaptain-coach of the Southcity Bulls before down in Waggaand I coached Riverinaas well.”

After a first-round bye CRL Newcastle, picked from the second-division competition, host North Coastat Maitland Sportsground on Saturday (12:10pm). The ladies league tag team meet title holders Central Coast prior (11am) at the same venue.

UNDER 23s: Hayden Mullins (Belmont South),Oskar Muir (Belmont South), Kurtis Langdon (Raymond Terrace), Jake Redmond (Fingal Bay), Leif Rhodes (Maitland United), Boston Smith (Dora Creek), Tyler Kearsey (University), Haine Ropati (Dora Creek), Jack Hayes (Belmont South), Dan Melmouth (West Wallsend), Josh Hayes (Belmont South), Zac Ansell (Cardiff), Jarhn Komene (Dora Creek), Brandon Wallis (Belmont South), Jed Cooper (Belmont South), Jason Smith (Paterson River), Hayden Thompson (Mallabula), Matthew Heaton (Cardiff).

LADIES LEAGUE TAG: Vaida Shaw (University), Niesa Case (University), Hayley Eveleigh (Aberglasslyn), Jordyn Barsley (Swansea), Rebekah Jenkins (University), Jessica Cassidy (Aberglasslyn), Ashlee Harvey (Aberglasslyn), Jordin Sheaves (University), Shae Ross (Aberglasslyn), Breanna Halton (university), Jessica Murray (University), Ashlee Ward (University), Breanna Partland (Dora Creek), Hannah Robinson (Stroud), Alexandra Munro (Aberglasslyn).