Manildra has taken its first step towards a successful 2018 Woodbridge Cup campaign, and it’s a pretty big one, too.
The Rhinos have signed former Country and NSW Residents forward Simon Osborne as captain-coach for next season after the experienced prop finished up a decorated stint in Group 10 at the end of 2017, one that included a premiership with Orange CYMS in 2015.
After playing with the Mudgee Dragons, Bathurst St Pat’s and junior club Bathurst Panthers in Group 10 before a stint playing in Sydney, Osborne said he held designs to one day coach and thought that opportunity might have come at his junior club next season.
“At CYMS Sully (Mick Sullivan) had that job tied up there and thought I was a shot at Panthers but they went with Toddy (Barrow),” Osborne said.
“My wife is friends with the Gibsons and they asked if I’d be interested. We got a phone call and it all went from there.”
As one of the toughest forwards to lace a boot in Western Division in the last 10 years, Osborne will bring plenty of experience to a Manildra side that enjoyed a strong Woodbridge Cup campaign this season, but faded come finals time.
The ex-representative star is hoping his time in the game will help the Rhinos charge to premiership contention in a cup competition on the rise.
“I don’t know a lot about the Woodbridge Cup, but I’ve heard it’s been getting stronger in last couple of years. It’s going to be learning curve,” he said.
“Third this year and lacked a bit of experience. Hopefully myself and couple of others might help change that.”
Osborne said he’d be casting the net to try and lure some mates to the club for next season, with training to begin in the first week of February.
“I’ll be looking to get a few others from around the place ... a couple of ex-Group 10 players who might want to have a run," he said.
“We’ve already started getting a list going and I’d like to get it finalised by December.”
Manildra bowed out of the 2017 Woodbridge Cup finals in straight sets after finishing the regular season in second place.
Minor premiers Trundle went on to win the premiership, defeating Cargo in the decider.