Central West coaches called out for the absolute cream of the crop and for this weekend’s trial against the NSW Waratahs’ under-20 squad, and in terms of outside men, they’ve got it.
Blue Bulls coaches Dean Oxley, Graydon Staniforth and Dick Leach are set to unleash the likes of Forbes’ Mahe Fangupo, Dubbo Kangaroos’ Moa Kavaefiafi, Orange City’s Joe Lasagavibau, Mudgee’s Rota Setu and Daniel Nuimata and Orange Emus’ Carter Hirini on Gen Blue at Mudgee’s Glen Willow on Saturday.
Holy blockbuster backline, Batman.
“I’m really excited to see what they can do, it’s a seriously exciting group of backs,” Staniforth said.
And that’s without mentioning unavailable ‘Roos and NSW Country star Filisione Pauta, Blue Bulls incumbents Anthony Golding, Zac White and Will Oldham, or newcomers AJ Sykes and Lachie Harris.
“Outside Filisione they’ll all play on Saturday, so we’ll get a really good look at everyone,” Staniforth said.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing guys like Dan Nuimata go around, I saw him first hand when he scored four tries against Emus and led Mudgee to a win, so we know how good he can be.”
“Our backs will get a real chance to shine too, we’re expecting Gen Blue to very fit and very well-drilled so we don’t want to give them the ball. We won’t be kicking it much, so they should have their hands on it pretty often.”
Oxley, Leach and Staniforth released a 37-man squad for the trial on Friday morning, although Staniforth clarified that not everyone named will play on Saturday.
“There’s a few in the group who have indicated they won’t be able to make it, but they’re committed to playing which is great news,” he explained.
“It’s great to see guys like Lachie (Harris) and Tatafu (Na’anuimotu) come over and join the squad too. It’s a genuine selection trial for us so the result doesn’t really matter at all to be honest.
“We’d love to stick it to Gen Blue and we’ll certainly be having a crack, but it’s more about the process and giving everyone a chance to put their best foot forward.
“We’ll make a lot of changes during the game, which I think will be played in four quarters, and probably look to have what will be our strongest squad on the paddock in the first and last quarters, but that’s not set in stone.”
Glen Willow is reportedly sold out the NSW Waratahs Super Rugby trial against the ACT Brumbies, which Central West’s game is a curtain-raiser for.
“No doubt there’ll be a fair hunk of that crowd filing in a little bit early, so it’ll be amazing for these guys to get the chance to play in front of potentially a huge crowd,” Staniforth said.
“Of the guys who were in the squad last year which won the Richardson Shield, we’d love to see them stand up and lead, and hopefully help the other guys avoid being overawed by the situation.”
One of those incumbents is hooker Tom Goolagong, who said he’ll relish the opportunity to play a senior role in the squad.
“Absolutely, it’s an incredible opportunity for all the guys in the group and I think everyone who played in last year’s win will look to guide us around a bit,” Goolagong said.
“We set the bar really high last year by qualifying for the Caldwell Cup in the fashion we did, so it’s important we carry that success through to this year and set that standard even higher for ourselves. Being able to test ourselves, personally and as a playing group, against quality opposition this early in the campaign is huge.
“We’re all really keen, it’s still in the selection process so everyone will want to impress the coaching staff and try to work their way into the Country Championship squad.
“We know nothing about Gen Blue, really, but that’s likely to be the same at the Country Championship. You rarely know much about opposition in representative rugby, so we’ll need to adapt to the way Gen Blue play quickly although it’s definitely about the process for us, not so much the result.
“Hopefully we can all play some good rugby and throw our hats in the ring for selection.”
Former Kinross Wolaroi School first XV skipper Cody Walker has been named in Gen Blue’s squad, he’ll run off the bench in NSW’s front row.
Kick off is at 3.55pm, after the Central West colts inter-squad trial at Jubilee Oval.
CENTRAL WEST BLUE BULLS: Thomas Galland, Tom Goolagong, Carter Hirini, Nick Hughes-Clapp, Lachie Harris, AJ Sykes, Valentin Loup, Nas Havealeta (Orange Emus), Joe Lasagavibau, Tatafu Na’anuimotu (Orange City Lions), Tukene Adams, Scott Hedrick, Adam Rayner, Cam Rosamund, Sam Schmidt, Raymond Tamiti, Dan Nuimata, Rota Setu (Mudgee Wombats), Will Chaffey, Anthony Golding, Johnny Mafiti, Reuben Williams, Moa Kavaefiafi (Dubbo Kangaroos), Tom Dewhurst (Cowra Eagles), Mahe Fangupo, Charlie French (Forbes Platypi), Peter Fitzsimmons, Adam Geal, Kurt Weekes, Chris Plunkett (Bathurst Bulldogs), Ted Hall (West Wyalong Weevils), Will Oldham, Zac White (Molong Magpies), Ben Powlay, Dan Ryan, Ben Ryan, Josh Vanderstok (Parkes Boars)