SATURDAY’S trial match between the Central West Blue Bulls’ and the Canberra Royals was meant to help the Blue Bulls coaches select the final squad.
Instead the trial only made those decisions harder.
“We walked away and realised the trial raised more questions than it answered,” Blue Bulls head coach Matt McRobert said.
“It’s a very strong squad. We’ll have to make some really hard decisions. Players who would have made the side last year may not make it this year.”
Playing in gusty winds at Grenfell Rugby Club on Saturday, the Blue Bulls put on four tries to the Royals’ two.
McRobert said he wasn’t concerned with the score but was happy with what the players delivered.
“It was a very successful trial,” he explained.
“We managed to get all the boys out there and they all had around 50 minutes each. We were very happy with what we saw.
“Our defence was very good. The Royals in the last third dominated possession and late in the game, for early in the season, our defence was very good. Then when we got opportunities we used the ball. We put on two tries quite easily.”
The coach said the only criticism was the timing between the players and their execution.
McRobert is confident they have time to fine-tune these things before the NSW Country Championships on March 23 and 24.
“At this stage of the season, the timing and execution is a little bit off but with another trial under our belts and the training camp, we should be right by Country Week,” he said.
“Early in the game we probably spent about 15 minutes in the Royals’ 22. Our execution wasn’t quite there so we couldn’t get over. The fact we were able to hold onto the ball and maintain pressure was great.”
This was the Blue Bulls’ first trial of the year after an initial squad was selected in January.
They have been training weekly since then but McRobert’s hopes of Saturday’s trial allowing him to get closer to the final selection were dashed.
He said the players had only made the decisions harder.
“Dan Ryan and Israel Symington (Parkes) stepped up. Dan played the full trial which shows how good his fitness is already,” McRobert said.
“Tim Alison (Orange Emus) did well. Isaac White (Emus) was good on the wing. It was good to see him get the ball in his hands. He’s got a good turn of speed.”
Other players to attract attention included Jack Garard, Hugh Medway (CSU Bathurst), Mahi Fangupo (Parkes), Lachie McCutcheon (Narromine) and Tom Hollis (Bathurst Bulldogs).
The Blue Bulls will have their final chance to impress the coaching panel this Saturday when they play a trial against Sydney University at Bathurst.