CSU prepare for Blowes Clothing Cup with pre-season trials

THE countdown to the Blowes Clothing Cup is well and truly on for CSU.

A new coach and new players have got prepared for the opening round derby clash with the Bathurst Bulldogs through several pre-season trials.

Scott Hatch is the man at the helm of CSU this year, attempting to take the club above their eighth place finish from last season.

He liked a lot of what he saw from the students from both the recent inter-club and Armidale trials.

"Before the Armidale trial we'd been doing a lot of skill work, but not much in structure. I just wanted to see everyone have a go in attack. At the inter-club trial we started to put some good structure together," he said.

"I want to focus a lot on our skill levels. Our structure is improving but what I want to see is our number one playing just as skilled as our number 15. That's going to allow us to play a different breed of rugby.”

The numbers game is always a challenge for CSU, with players leaving every season, but so far player turnout has been encouraging for Hatch.

"I've had a couple of older guys who are 25, 26 and 27 years old show up, which is great for us, but there's also been a lot of last year's colts come through who are keen as mustard to try and get a first grade spot after their successful season," he said.

"Jack Keppel will obviously be one of our leading players this year. Ben Redding is looking like he'll be at halfback. His aggressiveness and fitness is great.

"We've brought in a strength and conditioning coach ... and both him and another colts player from last year, Tom Graham, have fared the best in the fitness drills we've run. They're both looked really good this pre-season."