WHEN Dean Oxley was appointed coach of the Bathurst Bulldogs for season 2018, one of his goals was to implement a new brand of rugby that allows his players to fully utilise their skill sets.
On Saturday he got to see his players embrace that new notion as they played a pre-season trial against Wollongong University.
Oxley knows there is still plenty of work to be done, but he saw plenty of positives at Ashwood Park as his men scored 10 tries to one against the visitors.
“Unfortunately they were a little bit under strength because they had their representative trial that some of their players attended, but that being said, the way the boys embraced and bought into the new structure I’m trying to provide the club, and certainly the first grade side, was very pleasing,” he said.
“There are a lot of areas that we need to improve in, it was a bit clunky in spaces, but I’ve very, very happy with the way the boys have embraced what I’m trying to achieve.”
The format of the trial, given that Wollongong was below full strength, was three 20-minute periods rather than the 40 minute halves Oxley had been hoping for.
Still, he feels forming a relationship with Wollongong was a big positive to come out of the day.
“I was trying to provide a game that was going to be the same as our first round, but with the changes to their squad which were late due to the representative trials, they weren’t in a position to provide that for us,” he said.
“But it was still a very positive trial, it was nice to go up against some other faces rather than doing friendly fire with the squad, the firsts and seconds going at each other with internals.
“It was really quite pleasing to build that relationship, it’s a club that we haven’t been involved with in the past and I’m looking forward to possibly a return match in Wollongong next year.”
With the 2018 Blowes Clothing Cup season set to commence on April 7 and Bulldogs set to play in a new tier one competition, Oxley still has plenty to work on. But he can see that his players are keen to embrace his ideas.
“The feedback is that they are quite excited and very interested in playing a different style of football and using their skill sets,” he said.
“They’ve always had the courage and commitment to the club, it’s a very strong club, that hasn’t been in question at all, it’s just being able to identify the areas where we can get the most benefit.
“We are teaching the boys how to actually read the game and to see the spaces that we need to exploit.
“There were a number of front rowers running in space the other day and using their skill set rather than just packing into scrums and doing line-out and chasing the rucks.”