Bulls charge forward in Dubbo trial

CENTRAL West Blue Bulls coach Matt McRobert believes Sunday’s trial in Dubbo was the perfect start to what is shaping up as a bumper season for rugby in the central west.

The Blue Bulls will return to the Caldwell Cup, the premier competition in country rugby, after winning the Richardson Shield in 2013 and McRobert said he was hugely impressed by the efforts the players showed on Sunday.

“For early in the year I was very happy, it was really hot, it said 40 on the thermostat in the car as we were driving in so it was fairly trying conditions,” he said. 

“So to see guys making the effort to turn up was hugely encouraging and they played really well too.”

With Mudgee returning to the Blowes Cup this year, as well as hosting the Country Championships in March, plus an expected nomination from country NSW to compete in the revamped national rugby championships, there is a real sense of excitement around Central West Rugby Union and McRobert said he expects those positive feelings to come across in the standard of play.

“We’ve all got work to do, but seeing blokes committed to train is great and we’ve got Orange City who have won the last two Blowes Cups undefeated, they’ve really raised the bar and other teams are trying to match that now,” he said. 

“It’s also good to hear people saying the Blue Bulls is a way to improve individual players before the start of the season and that’s what we want, to improve the standard so it’s very encouraging.”

McRobert said seeing some new faces from Mudgee at the trials was another positive of the day, while a number of players from last year’s squad were also in attendance at Apex Oval, leading McRobert to believe he’ll have a strong side at his disposal in 2014.

“We had a few blokes overseas and unavailable and Lachie McCutcheon’s wife gave birth so he wasn’t there, but he’ll be a huge part of our side and will lead the forward pack,” he said. 

“We’ve got Pete Nau and Josh Tremain who I think are two of the best hookers in country rugby and Johnny Rathbone and Tom Hollis have been two of the best halfbacks in the central west recently and we’ve got more training sessions coming up so hopefully we’ll see numbers swell and more guys push for selection.”

Charlie Luteru and Josh Sinisa, members of the side last year, were two of the Dubbo Kangaroos players in action.

McRobert said he was happy to see Brad Pugh taking part in the trials as well.

“He’s been very good for a long time and that’s what you want, blokes who are looking to better themselves and make the squad,” he said. 

Parkes is the next stop for the side, with a training run next weekend, and while Sunday’s trials were a success, McRobert said there was one thing he’d like to change for the next session.

“Hopefully it can just be a bit cooler there,” he joked.

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