THOUGH he has no idea what sort of opposition will be in front of his side when they kick off their NSW Country Rugby Union Championships campaign on Saturday, Central West coach Matt McRobert says his team’s preparation couldn’t have been better as they prepare to take on Western Plains.
In something of a local derby against the Blue Bulls’ nearest neighbours, the winner of the opening Richardson Shield match will then go on to play either Far North Coast or Mid North Coast in what is effectively a semi-final later in the day before Sunday’s final.
With no injuries and a settled squad, McRobert says there are no excuses from his side of the equation should they lose.
“Our preparation has been pretty much spot on, we have had virtually zero injuries and we tend to think that we have a stronger unit across the board than we did in 2012,” he said.
“We have filled some key positions with some very strong players.
“Year to year though everyone turns up with a different team, and though they (Western Plains) might have been ranked eighth last year that doesn’t really mean anything for 2013. They have picked up some good players from what I’ve heard, including a couple of NSW Country reps.
“They are our next-door neighbours and there is very much a Springfield-Shelbyville sort of rivalry there. We’d love to knock them over.”
Among the final 25-man squad are a four Orange players, including Lions forwards Josh Tremain and Duncan Young, as well as Emus backs Tim Alison and Isaac White.
Dubbo ‘Roos loose forward Peter Nau will captain the side, with Narromine’s Scott Burgess as his deputy.
With the side he’s got at his disposal McRobert is confident however Saturday’s game unfolds, he has the players to handle the situation and play according to what is required.
“We have plenty of pace out wide, with guys like Jack Garad, Phil Tonkin, Scott Burgess from the Narromine side. We are faster in general across the backline from last year,” he said.
“There are a couple of Polynesian players from Dubbo who are great at off-the-cuff sort of footy, so we’ve got that covered.
“But as much as you want to always try and play attractive rugby, at the end of the day it is about scoring points and if there is the chance to put it through the sticks, we will take it.”
The Country Championships will be played in Tamworth on March 23 and 24.
Blue Bulls: 1 Chris Plunkett, 2 Josh Tremain, 3 Amoni Vea, 4 Israel Symington, 5 Dan Ryan, 6 Josh Sinisa, 7 Duncan Young, 8 Peter Fitzsimmons, 9 Phil Tonkin, 10 Mahe Fangupo, 11 Filisone Pauta, 12 Charlie Luteru, 13 Tim Alison, 14 Jack Garad, 15 Scott Burgess (v/c), 16 George Quigley, 17 Max Keith, 18 Peter Nau (c), 19 Hugh Medway, 20 Ben Ryan, 21 Tom Hollis, 22 Isaac White, 23 Palei Tonga, 24 Joe Nash, 25 Lachie McCutcheon