Central West Blue Bulls head coach Dean Oxley isn’t beating around the bush ahead of Sunday’s first muster day at Molong – he wants the best players there in force.
And he’s determined to get them.
Oxley and his coaching staff of Col Jeffs, Dick Leach and Graydon Staniforth will get the first look at what’s at their disposal ahead of April’s return to the Caldwell Cup, a step-up Oxley says will seriously test the zone’s credentials.
We’re not going to reinvent the wheel, but we have to improve.Dean Oxley
As such, Oxley says he needs the best players form both the Blowes Clothing Cup and GrainCorp Cup premierships on hand to prove Central West is a region to be reckoned with.
“The best players to achieve the best results, that’s the goal,” Oxley said, looking to up the ante after last year’s undefeated Richardson Shield run.
“We had a positive campaign last season and we need to lift again. We’re not going to reinvent the wheel, but we have to improve.
“The best zones don’t dip year in, year out, and that’s where we want to be, alongside the best.
“We offered a great program last year, and to be honest if we’re going to be competitive in the Caldwell Cup we’ll need the best players in the zone.”
In a bid to draw out the best talent in the region, Oxley travelled to Trangie and Blayney, the host venues for the north and south grand finals respectively, at the end of last season to invite GrainCorp players to trial with Central West.
He also said Forbes’ impressive Blowes Clothing Cup run in 2016 meant the “untapped resource” of the Central West will be called on in 2017.
The likes of Dubbo Roos’ powerhouse centre Filisone Pauta, Platypi ace Mahe Fangupo and hooker Jarrod Hall as well as Dogs’ firebrand Peter Fitzsimons had all indicated they’ll lead the Bulls’ charge at the next level.
And that starts with a February 4 clash with NSW Gen Blue under 20s outfit as a curtain raiser to next months Waratahs-Brumbies Super Rugby trial.
“Will need to hit the ground running against the Gen Blue outfit or face a negative start to what will be a positive program,” Oxley said.
“The players who have put in the work and bought into the program will be rewarded with starting jumpers for that game. We can’t afford to start poorly.”
The Roos were heavily represented in the Blues Bulls squad last season with Pauta joined by Benn Wright, Anthony Golding, John Korff, Brad Pugh and Moa Kavaefiafi while there is no doubt Rhinos players will be keen to step up in 2017.
Sunday’s muster day begins at 2pm at Molong.