Sydney University president David Lyons spoke of his club's strong affinity with country NSW and in particular the Central West region earlier this week, and you need look no further than the students' Intrust Super Shute Shield side for proof of that connection.
The likes of Wellington's Mitch Whiteley and Bathurst's Rory Suttor will both line-up in the fabled blue and gold at Glen Willow Sporting Complex against Eastwood on Saturday in a homecoming of sorts, even more so for Mudgee's Matt Sandell.
Admittedly it's not quite the burrow at Jubilee Oval where he began his career with the Wombats but that's a mere detail, because there's simply no denying how excited the latter is to return to his old stomping ground.
"I'm really looking forward to it, it'll be good to get back out there," Sandell, who was born in Wellington but spent his formative years in Mudgee, said.
"My parents still live locally and they'll be there, I haven't played out at Mudgee since I was maybe 16 or 17 either, it might even be longer.
In the lead-up to the students' Shute Shield clash with Eastwood the Wombats actually take on last year's beaten grand finalists Parkes in the third round of the New Holland Agriculture Cup, something else the 24-year-old prop is looking forward to.
"There's still a few guys I used to play with running around with the Wombats so I'm glad I'll be able to watch at least some of their game, and catch up with those guys afterward," he said.
Whiteley said he'll have plenty of family and friends on hand too, the Redbacks junior is "heading home on Friday to catch up with everyone" before landing in Mudgee to hopefully lead his side to a third win from four starts in 2019.
"I'm pretty excited to get out there and see everyone. I'll have some friends and family coming across from Wellington and Geurie, so it'll be really great," Whiteley said, before saying how important he considers this kind of endeavour from one of the country's leading clubs.
"We want to engage rural communities. It goes without saying but the last few years have been pretty tough out that way, with drought and that sort of thing, and rugby does bring a lot of those communities together so being able to help do that by bringing the Shute Shield out this way is a really great thing."
It's good for the kids too, Whiteley said.
While the Shute Shield clash in undeniably the main event, the blockbuster day will also feature a free junior clinic in the lead-up, run by Classic Wallabies general manager and former Australian star Justin Harrison and Wallaroos ace Sera Naiqama.
"We want to show off that pathway and give the kids out there a chance to see this kind of rugby live, rather than on TV," Whiteley said.
"The junior coaching clinic before will be a lot of fun too, being able to give the kids a hand and be a part of that kind of thing is really rewarding.
"I've experienced a fair bit of that having injuries and major surgeries and I've really enjoyed that side of things, being able to help those kids who are passionate about rugby."
WATCH: Highlights from Sydney University's win over Warringah in last weekend's grand final rematch
In terms of the rugby, both Sandell and Whiteley agreed Eastwood will present as tough a challenge as their side has had in 2019. But, there's plenty of confidence in the group considering the reigning champions hammered Warringah 50-nil in last weekend's rematch of the 2018 grand final.
"It was a pretty good performance but there was a lot of hard work that went into it and there's still plenty we can improve on, it's a good confidence boost though," Sandell said.
"We did work hard in terms of prep for that game, really hard, so it's good to that kind of result but there's a lot we can fix up," Whiteley agreed.
"Eastwood are a good side, they're strong and they can take a game away from you pretty quickly if you give them a sniff so we'll obviously have to be up for it," Sandell continued.
"Discipline's a big thing for us, even though we won by that margin we still gave away a lot of penalties against Rats. Eastwood are a big pack too, physical, so we'll have to be on through the forwards and the scrum will be a pretty key factor too."
Gates open at 10am at Glen Willow, with Mudgee's Westfund Ferguson Cup clash against Bathurst Bulldogs opening the day at 11am. If it goes ahead the New Holland Agriculture Cup second grade clash is next up from 12pm.
Following that the kids' junior clinic runs from 12.15-1.15pm, before the Wombats' top grade clash with the Boars and the students' second grade clash with Eastwood, both from 1.25pm.
The Intrust Super Shute Shield clash kicks off at 3.10pm, with tickets for the day just $10 and available here.
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