GUNNEDAH and North Tamworth will clash at Kitchener Park tomorrow and one young Bulldog could be the key to an upset, with Callum Hayne lining up against his former team after starring for the red and blue in the first two rounds.

Callum Hayne has scored five tries in just two games this season. 010516CBB07

The young halfback was fresh out of school and playing fullback for North Tamworth first grade when they won the coveted Clayton’s Cup after going undefeated through their Group 4 season, but after moving back home to Gunnedah this year Hayne has moved into the halfback role and has made it his own.

Hayne scored 14 tries in as many matches last year as Norths scooped back-to-back titles, and is on target to beat that early this season after scoring a double and taking the ref’s points in the Bulldogs 38-20 win over Diggers in the opening round, before backing that up with a triple in their massive 90-6 win over Armidale on Sunday.

While the classy playmaker might have a wiry frame, he plays like a 110kg front rower with fast feet, opposition defenders twice his size regularly bounce off him as he busts the line and stop dead when he hits them in defence.

Bulldogs captain coach Trent Hilton said that Hayne is just a pure footballer from head to toe.

“He (Hayne) is a lightweight but he plays hard and is as strong as an ox,” Hilton said.

“He is an exciting player to have – a real footballer.”

While you would expect a player like Hayne to enjoy the role of halfback because of the extra ball in the hand or control, his love of the seven is for a different reason.

“I love the front-on defence and players running at me,” Hayne said.

While he certainly holds his own up in defence, he contributes his good form in attack this season to playing behind a pack that lays a good platform and includes players like Hilton and in-form second rower Danny Read.

“We have a very solid front and back row,” Hayne said.

“It makes it a lot easier on me when we are on the front foot.”

The Bulldogs will need to stay on that front foot this week if they are to beat the premiers, with Hayne knowing all too well how the well-drilled Bears outfit make sides pay for any mistakes with points.

“We have to get up and in their face all game,” Hayne said.

“We can’t turn any ball over and can’t take our foot off.”

The halfback thought Gunnedah slipped in the final 10 minutes of their big win against the Rams.

“I was a bit dirty we didn’t get the 100 up at the end,” Hayne said.

“But it was good to get some run in our legs before Norths.”

“We know we have plenty of points in us and are looking to base our game on defence this season.”

“We want to finish in the top two.”

While Norths and Gunnedah do battle at Kitchener Park, another big local derby will be taking place at Scully Park when the two Wests Entertainment Group backed sides face-off at their shared home ground.

West Lions and The Diggers drew 22-all in a trial match in the pre-season and look well matched this year despite the Lions leading the table with two wins and the Diggers sharing the bottom with two losses as the competition gets split down the middle early.

In Narrabri the Rams face another big challenge when they take on the winless Narrabri, as the Blues look to get over a tough start to the season after playing both of last year’s grand finalists in the opening two rounds.

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