Orange Emus under 17s coach Mick Wallace hopes the hugely successful Narromine side that knocked off his young greens in last week’s Central West Junior Rugby Union grand final at Forbes isn’t lost to the senior grades in future seasons.
The 2018 colts competition – which is the next step for top age under 17s players – only featured four teams, Emus, Dubbo Roos, Bathurst Bulldogs and eventual premiers Orange City.
As a result, Narromine, a side that has won consecutive under 17s crowns and won the under 15s title in 2016, too, doesn’t have a direct link to the colts competition.
Gorillas coach Bec Smyth admitted as much but said if this group of Gorillas can stay together they can challenge any colts team they face.
Wallace says the best way to ensure they can do that is building a stand-alone under 20s premiership in the Central West.
… let’s find a way to match them up as best we can.Emus under 17s coach Mick Wallace looking at including small-town teams in next year's colts premiership.
The stand-alone Westfund Ferguson Cup was a raging success for new chief executive Matt Tink and the CWRU in 2018.
Wallace says a similar model for colts, one that allowed clubs that aren’t necessarily Blowes Clothing Cup ready but boast a promising group of under 20s players that could field a colts team, was the best way to help foster the next generation of senior rugby players in the region.
“I hope colts is an independent comp next year so they can keep them … I’d hate to see these players go to a bigger club or out to Western Plains,” he said, Emus going down 25-12 to the Gorillas in the under 17s decider last Saturday.
Wellington, Forbes and Mudgee also fielded under 17s sides in 2018, but only Forbes is in the Blowes Clothing Cup – where last year’s colts competition was conducted – heading into next season.
“For these guys, an independent comp where Emus and Narromine can play at Dubbo on a Friday night … or a game at Forbes … let’s find a way to match them up as best we can.
“But it’d be great to have that independent comp where guys can continue to filter through and hopefully Narromine can get back into the Blowes Cup … that’s where they deserve to be.
“They’re a good town and a good club.”
Tink was on deck at Grinsted Oval last Saturday to encourage both Emus and Gorillas’ players to stick with rugby into 2019, with an announcement on colts rugby expected heading into next season.
Smyth, who has an immense level of rugby knowledge having played for the Wallaroos, was hopeful her Narromine side would be able to stick together.
“If they can stay together they’re certainly a match for any team in any competition they play,” she added.
“The majority (are top age players and) will move up to whatever comp they’re in.”