Who to watch in 2014

THERE'S no other way to describe the 2013 sporting year other than huge.

Grand finals, top grade champions, state title winners, gold medal holders ... the last 12 months had just about everything a sporting nut craves.

So how could 2014 possibly top that? Simple.

The Central Western Daily’s sports desk has unveiled the top 10 sporting stories to watch in 2014, with each dishing up potentially massive moments over the next calendar year.

ORANGE NETBALL:

YOU don’t need to be a fortune teller to safely predict the Orange open netball side will win a 19th consecutive Central West State League title this year.

The side will, again, be favourites to take out the Inter-Regional State League crown too.

Something else which is also a very real chance for the senior team is a state title.

They took out the Netball NSW open division two crown in 2012 and were third in the top grade last year.

So, with more talented players coming through the ranks, don’t be surprised if in 2014 the Orange netball team lifts the open state championship trophy.

TIM MORTIMER:

DESPITE falling agonisingly short of a Group 10 premiership in just his first attempt as captain-coach, the honeymoon period is well and truely now over for Tim Mortimer and Orange Hawks.

Lifting a defeated two blues off the canvas in style in 2013, Mortimer helped take the club to a the minor premiership - the side’s first since 1999 - and a narrow grand final defeat at the hands of Orange CYMS.

But 2014 will pose a far greater challenge.

Set to be without a number of key faces come season kick-off in April, can Mortimer continue to mould the two blues into a driving force in the Group 10 competition?

We’re tipping yes, emphatically, with a premiership to boot.

WILL BAKER:

THE word splash just isn’t big enough for the kind of impact Will Baker is making in the pool at the moment.

With all the grace of a cannonball, the 17-year-old dominated the pool in 2013, and at the 2013 NSW Multi Class Championship swimming in the S6 classification in October won five gold medals and broke the 17 years national record for the 100m and 200m breaststroke events.

Just how far Baker takes those times in 2014 is anyone’s guess, but with a Road to Rio camp in the works and more gold medals begging to be won, the young Blayney product will continue to ride the wave over the next 12 months.

HARRISON MULLER:

A smokey for an NRL debut in 2014? Maybe?

Maybe not, not at this stage anyway, but Muller, an Orange CYMS junior Mick Sullivan thought enough of to throw in his side’s pack for the majority of 2013, is a giant of an 18-year-old well on the way to the big time.

Making the move from the Sydney Roosters SG Ball outfit to Cronulla for the upcoming winter, Muller will likely star for the Sharks in the under 20s this season.

Impress the right people and the next step could be Muller’s for the taking.

EDWINA BONE:

AFTER a huge 2013 Orange-born Hockeyroo Edwina Bone is set for an even bigger 2014.

Bone made her full international debut for the Hockeyroos in May last year, and by the end of the year had become a regular for Australia.

After strong performances in the World League Finals in Argentina, Bone could partake in tours of South Africa and New Zealand in 2014.

The World Cup Tour in the Netherlands follows, before the Commonwealth Games, in Scotland mid-year.

Having solidified her place as the anchor of the Hockeyroos defence, expect Bone to excel this year.

CHARLES LITCHFIELD:

CHARLES Litchfield has always been a player of unbridled potential, and so far in 2013-14 he has begun living up to it.

Litchfield is the third leading run scorer in the Orange District Cricket Association first grade competition, with 316 at 39.50.

He is also an established member of Orange’s opens and colts (under 21s) teams, and represented Western Zone under 16s, and New South Wales Country under 17s this season.

At just 16, the ceiling is high for Litchfield.

Despite being a year young for the age group, Litchfield trialled for the NSW under 17s, and ACT under 17s and was a part of the Cricket NSW 17s Academy last year and will do so again in 2014.

This kid could go anywhere.

WOMEN’S LEAGUE TAG:

WOMEN’S League Tag has all the potential in the world.

Many were surprised by the quality and ferocity of the competition last season and 2014 is set to be even better.

Every Group 10 club will nominate a Women’s League Tag team and with nine sides in the competition, teams will face much stiffer competition.

Expect Orange CYMS and Bathurst Panthers to be heavyweights again, and look to the Mudgee Dragons as dark horses.

SAM AH-SEE:

THE date is set for Orange’s Sam Ah-See to fight for the Australian National Boxing Federation light middleweight title.

The southpaw will go up against Shannon King on February 21 at the Orange Function Centre.

Both have an undefeated professional records with Ah-See winning six of his 10 fights by knockout, and King knocking out each of his seven opponents.

You should expect Ah-See to be at his best in front of a home crowd.

King will provide Ah-See with his toughest challenge yet but don’t be surprised if the Orange product claims the Australian title.

BLAYNEY BEARS:

WITH a winless 2013 now dead and buried, the Blayney Bears’ worth to the Group 10 competition will be proven in 2014.

Not only will Blayney win its first premier league game since 2000, the Bears will grizzle their way towards a place in the Group 10 top five.

Not a lot of Group 10 sides have gotten better this off season.

But Blayney has.

And with the likes of Terawhiti Cooper and Western Division centre Josh Rainbow joining Anlezark and the Nixons at King George Oval, the mighty Bears will be back in a big way in 2014.

MUDGEE WOMBATS:

HAVING dominated the Australian National Field Days Cup northern conference since 2008, Mudgee made the decision to step up to the Blowes Clothing Cup for 2014.

With a strong player base and good coaching staff, including former Northern Suburbs club captain Justin Sutherland, the Wombats aren’t expected to disgrace themselves.

Despite being diplomatic in their expectations, Mudgee could be a genuine finals chance in all three of the grades the club has entered: first grade, second grade and colts.

It is a long trip to Mudgee and the Wombats should be understandably tough to beat at home.

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