There's no need to try and reinvent the wheel.
Outside it being a once-in-a-lifetime trip Dubbo Kangaroos' Shaun McHugh and Harden Red Devils duo Aaron Seaman and Shahid Khalfan said that's the major takeaway from Central West's tour of New Zealand last week, which acts as part of the Blue Bulls' lead-up to this year's NSW Country Rugby Union Championship.
None of them played a part in last year's crushing Caldwell Cup decider loss to Illawarra but all three pushed their claims for the 2019 edition in a big way in New Zealand, and whether they make the final cut or not all three agreed simplicity is key to the Blue Bulls' title dream.
"We had that total experience of New Zealand rugby, being introduced to the Crusaders and their set-up and a real insight into the culture that kind of keeps them connected, which we used all week," Khalfan explained.
"And the session with the Canterbury coaches, male and female, was a great insight into such basic drills, which they all use. They just execute it all so well," McHugh added.
"[Rugby's] a pretty simple sport. We were told that and it was reiterated that it's about doing the little things right and having a purpose as to why you're doing it," Khalfan continued.
"You can [apply] that to all the rugby you play, all the way to the top. Getting those simple things right and being critical of yourself too … is important at any level and probably the key to why New Zealand rugby is where it is compared to other places."
"Yeah nothing fancy, just simple rugby really," Seaman added.
All three agreed those learning experiences translated into the Blue Bulls' stunning on-field performances, which in many ways exceeded all expectations considering they were facing sides that live and breathe the sport daily.
The 35-strong men's group was split into two sides on Wednesday and Saturday, picking up two wins over University of Canterbury on the former day before beating High School Old Boys and going down to Prebbleton on the latter.
"You got the feel everyone picked from that a lot of different things (from Tuesday's Crusaders HQ visit) that kind of then culminated in Wednesday's game. The eye-opening experience transitioned well into [those games] where by we came together in such a short period of time and I think we played such good footy," Khalfan explained.
"[Prebbleton] is a great club, too, 100 or so years old. You love a bit of history and they really got behind it, it was the same with Canterbury University, the club culture they have really shone through."
"[It was] very similar to our clubs back home really, you know, at Roos we were founded in 1899 so there's a lot of history and I could feel a lot of similarities," McHugh added.
All three have created some major headaches for Central West coach Dean Oxley and his fellow selectors too considering none are incumbents, McHugh in particular.
He was named skipper of the tour's top side and led with aplomb from the second-row, taking control of the lineout and being among the side's best in both games.
Considering the likes of Nick Hughes-Clapp, Chris Miller and Dan Ryan weren't on the tour, Oxley will have an unenviable job filling the Blue Bulls' second and back rows for country week.
Khalfan was his deputy and, from halfback, linked beautifully with five-eighth and last year's Caldwell Cup MVP Mahe Fangupo, while Seaman was barnstorming from No.8 and for those who hadn't seen him in action before, somewhat came from the clouds.
But Oxley and Central West CEO Matt Tink made no secret of the fact the tour was designed to give fringe and lesser-known players from competitions like the Oilsplus Cup a chance to shine, so in those terms it's a box ticked.
They all appreciated the chance to push their selection claims too.
"You know part of the purpose was to experience the culture and experience parts of New Zealand we wouldn't usually experience, but we didn't forget we were [there] to play rugby and to better ourselves (as players) for the chance to play at the country championships in June," McHugh said.
"I thought we'd just come over and do a bit of training, play a few games," Seaman added.
"I really didn't expect it to be as much of an experience as it was. As a whole, it really was a once-in-a-lifetime thing."
Central West's wider group, including those not available for the tour, will continue training over the next couple of months before Oxley names his final squad for country week, at Tamworth on the June long weekend.
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