THE Mudgee Wombats’ coaches are the first to admit that next year is going to be the hardest one for the burrow.
Stepping up to the top tier of Central West Rugby Union, the Blowes Clothing Cup, after six seasons in the lower division isn’t going to be easy. At times it could get ugly. Really ugly.
But the Wombats’ mentors for the three sides aren’t worried about that.
In an united voice they want the teams to be competitive.
It is the one word that is uttered when they are asked: “What is the goal of the Wombats in 2014?”
Justin Sutherland is the head coach of Wombats’ first grade, George Hamilton and Angus Rae will lead second grade, and Tim Burgess and Tom Flynn have the task of mentoring the colts.
Having been the dominant force of the President’s Cup then the Australian National Field Days northern conference since 2008, the Wombats made the bold move to step up and play with the big boys.
In their time in the second-tier competition, Mudgee won four premierships, were grand finalists in 2011 and made the preliminary final in 2008.
Although the success in the lower competition will be looked back fondly, Mudgee Rugby president Greg Bartrim said a new chapter had to be written.
“This is a whole new comp, a whole new world of hurt and we will be required to step up a big mark to match it with these teams,” Bartrim said.
“It will be a very interesting year. We’ve done a lot of work. We have a really good committee and really good coaching staff, good trainers on board and there is a lot of optimism and only time will tell.”
Sutherland, who was club captain at Sydney club Northern Suburbs a decade ago, can’t say for sure how his team will go against the likes of Dubbo Kangaroos, Parkes and Orange City; the latter having not lost a match since 2011.
“We need to take more of a conservative approach giving we don’t know exactly how it [Blowes] will be,” Sutherland said.
“Coming out of the level we were playing at the last few years, I think we will be competitive.
“I would like to think we can be middle of the table or better. But we won’t be thinking we will be winning matches by big numbers, that won’t be happening.
“For me personally, three grades being competitive is what we are all aiming for. Having good numbers there and with the new format of three teams and travelling together we will be.”
Burgess and Flynn said the colts would be a challenge but having been successful for the past two seasons in the under 17 competition under the guidance of Burgess, there was no reason why the Wombats wouldn’t do well in the under 20s division next year.
“We will be able to mix it,” Burgess said.
“How we do, whether we win or come last, we are not going to embarrass ourselves or the club. There are good opportunities for us to learn next year and to take that learning into the following years.”
For any players wishing to play for the Mudgee Wombats in 2014, contact information is on the club’s website.