They’re the new kids on the Western Women’s Rugby League block and will likely boast a stack of first-time players but coach Marty Lyden says write off the Vipers at your peril.
The premiership-winning Group 10 side that stormed to last season’s crown has been split three ways, with Mudgee the Bathurst-based Panorama Platypi and Lyden’s Vipers helping take the 2019 competition to six sides.
The Group 11, Woodbridge Cup and Castlereagh League rep teams that took part in 2018 all remain in tact.
Initially the split, Lyden says, was tough and organising financials, sponsors and players has been “a bit hectic”, but come round one on February 9 he’s confident the Vipers will be ready to roll.
The Vipers, a side which will draw players from Orange, Blayney and small-town surrounds, took part in their second training run at Anzac Park on Friday night.
“We’ll get there,” Lyden said.
“The split has been hard, we didn’t know until mid-November. The response has been good but it’s just getting everyone here. I think that’ll come together after Christmas.”
In a promising sign, most of the girls who’ve been able to train so far have been under 18s and under 15s players.
The more exposure they get the better, and the girls that played last year will step it up a notch, too.Vipers coach Marty Lyden.
Lyden believes filling a senior side won’t be a problem either, with the likes of Indigenous All Stars squad member Bec Ford and Cargo speedster Heidi Regan to headline the Vipers’ charge in the top grade.
“There’s quite a few that said they’ll come over and play as well … we don’t know what we’ll end up with but the whole idea is participation,” he said.
In that vein, Lyden said any first-timers are more than welcome to come and train with the club.
In fact, he says, often the newcomers take to the contact-side of the game seamlessly.
Lyden helped take a composite team, dubbed the Central Storm, to the Albury Nines in October and the side progressed through to the competition’s final.
“A lot of the girls that went to Albury got better and better as the weekend went on. The more exposure they get the better, and the girls that played last year will step it up a notch, too,” he added.
Lyden’s expected the second edition of the WWRL premiership to lift a gear as well, predicting the unchanged Group 11 outfit that featured in last year’s grand final to be the team to beat.
“Surely … they’ll be dominant, I’d say,” he said.
“They’ll be the same as they were last year and I didn’t think Group 10 was that dominant last season, there were times when they went with us.
“Woodbridge and Castlereagh will get better too, they’ve been training for a few weeks.”
Lyden said any girls in the Orange and Blayney area willing to give rugby league a crack can contact the club via its facebook page, Vipers Women’s Rugby League Cub.
Round one of the WWRL kicks off on Saturday, February 9.
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