With Central West’s trip to New Zealand looming large, Blue Bulls coach Dean Oxley admitted he’s eagerly anticipating three of the bumper touring group having a massive impact – one’s a coach, and the two players don’t boast anywhere near as high a profile as some of their teammates.
Following Sunday’s final pre-tour training session Oxley said he’s over the moon to have injured Dubbo Kangaroos flanker Mark Baldwin at his disposal as an assistant coach, adding he’s been impressed with Temora’s Matt Fuller and Young’s Hamish Kaveney.
Baldwin was Dubbo’s highest profile recruit in the 2018 pre-season but, sadly for him, his club and Central West, he ruptured his ACL in the Blue Bulls’ miraculous NSW Country Rugby Union Championship championship win over Newcastle-Hunter in April.
That kept him out of the remainder of 2018 and will he’ll potentially be sidelined for all of this year’s Blowes Clothing Cup too, but has taken up Oxley’s offer to act as one of the Blue Bulls’ assistant coaches.
“With the standard he’s played I think he can have a really big impact on some of the younger guys in the tour squad, and then at country week too,” Oxley said of the former Randwick Shute Shield skipper.
“He’s come in and become very connected to the zone and he has a lot of experience and I think the younger guys can really absorb a lot from him, I’m really pleased to have him on board and be working with him, he’ll mainly focus on our breakdown work.
“He won’t be playing, unfortunately, because of the injury he suffered at country week last year which was a real shame. It’s not quite right, and I think he’s looking at maybe coming back toward the end of the season.”
In terms of Fuller and Kaveney, they’ve impressed Oxley for very different reasons.
A “man of few words”, Fuller won last year’s GrainCorp Cup Southern Division – now the Oilsplus Cup – player-of-the-year and forced his way into Central West calculations as a result.
“Honestly, I don’t know a lot about Matt,” Oxley said of the Tuskers’ prop.
“But I do love his attitude. I think even the training sessions we’ve had have been a lot quicker than he might be used to and have more intensity, but he’s applying himself and he’s just been getting in and getting it done.
“I’m looking forward to seeing how he goes.”
Kaveney on the other hand, as tall a timber as you’ll find in the Central West, is a young second-rower Oxley sees a world of potential in.
“He could be anything,” Oxley said, simply.
“You can’t coach height and you can’t coach speed, and when we’ve got a bloke ducking under doorways you take notice. He’s had limited coaching and is an interesting one, but he’s an exciting option for us I think.
“He could easily be molded into a player of (former Bathurst Bulldogs star) Matt Waterford’s style. There was never a lot to him but he still went on to win NSW Country player-of-the-year, because he had a defined role and he did it superbly.
“I’m really looking forward to working with Hamish and seeing how much education he gets, and how much he develops.”
Central West land in New Zealand on Sunday, March 3 before a two-hour training session the following day.
On Wednesday the men’s group faces Canterbury University before a a second, two-hour training session on Thursday and then clashes with High School Old Boys and Prebbleton on Saturday.
The women’s side faces High School Old Boys’ equivalent, while the Blue Bulls will be split into two teams that afternoon and face both opposition.
- CENTRAL WEST TOURING SQUAD: (Women) Sarah Archer, Courtney Auld, Davina Cooke, Roxanna Dougall, Rebecca Eastaway, Amie Fazekas, Amanda Ferguson, Krystal Fyfe, Kim Fyfe, Kate Gullifer, Nicole Jordan, Helen Limn, Jacky Lyden, Lilly-Ann Mason, Louise McCabe, Em McDonald, Harriet Messner, Rita Palm, Nicole Schneider, Mandy Scott, Kenesha Stevens, Sharnah Stevens, Milika Tuinakavaudra, Edwina Ulberg, Mel Waterford, Claire Woolmington; (Men) Craig Campbell, Mahe Fangupo, Matt Findlay, Nick Fisher, Peter Fitzsimmons, Charlie French, Matt Fuller, Brenton Gibson, Sam Greatbatch, Mark Grivas, Jarrod Hall, George Hancock, Joel Harper, Lachie Harris, Dave Jessiman, Hamish Kaveney, Shahid Khalfan, Nathan Langilangi, Ben Lenehan, Hayden Leopold, Tom Macleay, Shaun McHugh, Adam Miles, Mitch Rixon, Justin Mobbs, Joe Nash, Will Oldham, Harrison Peacock, Josh Peffer, George Quigley, Mathew Randall, Ben Ryan, Aaron Seaman, Josh Tremain, Alex Weal, Harry Webber, Zac White
DO YOU WANT MORE ORANGE AND REGIONAL SPORT?
- Receive our free newsletters delivered to your inbox, as well as breaking news alerts. Sign up below …