Sports predictions are a mug’s game, and anyone who tries their hand at it inevitably ends up with egg on their face.
Ever tried predicting an NRL ladder in January? Yes, Parramatta, I’m looking very, very squarely at you.
So, to avoid any egg on our faces or angry punters telling us our predictions are wrong, we’re having a gander at what we reckon will be the biggest talking points of sport in 2019 – so in no particular order, here we go.
#1 How will CYMS fare without Mick Sullivan?
After the former NRL star announced 2018 would be his last season, people tried to picture CYMS without their captain-coach, and struggled.
Sullivan had become part of the furniture – although we’re yet to see a couch pull off as many heroic feats on a football field as Sullivan has – at CYMS, and it will be a different place without him there.
While CYMS are hardly going to fall apart, Sullivan’s absence will be one of the stories to watch in 2019.
#2 How far can Bathurst Giants go?
One of the most intriguing stories of the 2019 Central West AFL season will surround the Bathurst Giants.
The Kennedys – Mark and Liz – coached both sides in 2018, and have been instrumental in putting together hard and fast sides. Can they claim a premiership or two in 2019? Or will they lost some of their young guns to study and work commitments?
#3 Can Bulldogs knock Emus off?
Orange Emus won their third Central West Rugby Union first grade flag in five years in 2018, defeating Bathurst Bulldogs at Endeavour Oval, and cleaned up in the lower grades as well, being bested only in the second grade final and in the colts.
Bathurst Bulldogs look the most likely rivals during the 2019 season, but can they can overcome the might of Emus? Will anyone else stand up to Nigel Staniforth’s men and announce the end of their reign, or are the green and whites too strong?
#4 How big can touch football become?
The announcement that Orange will be hosting the NSW Touch Football Junior Regional Championships in 2019 and 2021 was a massive one no matter which way you look at it.
Some 900 players from all across the state will descend on Waratahs in the middle of July to take part in what must surely be one of the biggest tournaments to be held in the Central West.
It’ll inject $2.2 million dollars into the economy, but it gives Orange Thunder – who have been absolutely dominating at regional levels all month – a chance to strut their stuff on home turf.
Touch is already one of the – if not THE – biggest sport in Orange. Can it get even bigger?
It’s looking like it absolutely can.
The only other question we have is if anyone told these Sydney teams how cold it gets in Orange in July?
#5 Can the Mariners push towards the top of the ladder?
Western NSW Mariners showed the competition the women’s side wasn’t to be messed with in National Premier League 2.
The outfit snared eight wins with an attacking style of play, and plenty of promising youngsters – including Poorsha Mcphillamy and Brydie Comiskey leading the way, and blooding the talented Ella Rose and Anna Hunt – the women’s side showed they were no easybeats.
With another year under their belts, can they push into the top half of the NPL2 ladder?
#6 Will men’s Premier League Hockey survive?
While the women’s Premier League has gone from strength to strength with CYMS reviving their side for the first time since 2007, the men’s competition has been struggling.
Numbers have been slowly dipping for the past few years, and there have been whispers the men’s competition could switch to a tournament-style clash as opposed to a regular season.
There’s a lot of water to go under the bridge between now and the start of the season, and we’d all love to see the competition return to full strength, but it’s one of the biggest questions of the year.
#7 Will they play on the SCG?
The Central West Wranglers won their leg of the Plan B Regional Bash at the end of October, and bush cricketers all across the state were promised the finals would be held at the SCG.
But due to the NSW government’s decision to spent a lot of money rebuilding two stadiums, A-League games and other commitments were switched across to the SCG, booting the Wranglers and their opponents off the ground.
This isn’t really too much of a question as we know there is apparently no free day for them to get onto the SCG, but every representative cricketer and administrator is still annoyed about it, and you bet we’ll hear more about it in 2019.
#8 Can Forbes and Orange City rebound?
Forbes had a horror year in the wilderness in 2018 after winning the 2017 Rugby Union crown, while Orange City won just the solitary game all season in first grade.
The Platypi had a horror run with injury, losing Mahe Fangupo, Charlie French and more during the season, while City just sort of… fell apart.
With a fresh pre-season for Forbes and a new coach in Viv Paasi at City, can both clubs turn it around in the Blowes Clothing Cup?
#9 Running of the Bulls
Molong Bulls are looking to return to the Woodbridge Cup in 2019, nearly six years after folding four rounds in to the 2013 season.
It would make the Woodbridge Cup one of the biggest Rugby League competitions in the country with a 10-team fixture, and add some spice for games against Manildra and Eugowra, and would be a wonderful sight to behold.
But will they find the numbers? The club is confident they can, but the last thing we want is for the Bulls to fold weeks into season 2019.
#10 Will the Eagles fly?
Orange Eagles will be reforming for season 2019 and bringing a whole host of basketball talent back to Orange with them, and everything man Craig Harvey said it best: “This is huge.”
And it will be. But there are also huge questions looming over the Eagles. The club is confident they have the numbers for a men’s team, with a women’s side in years to come, but will they have enough talent?
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