Group 10 coach Graeme Osborne is expecting a “smarting” Group 11 to come out firing at Bathurst when the two old foes return to the representative scene on Saturday.
The annual first grade match was abandoned in 2017 as Western went all-in on the Country Rugby League’s move to under 23s, with the Group 10 and Group 11 trial played under the same rules.
But with first grade players now back – the under 23s representative clash remains, too – Osborne said Group 11 will be filthy Group 10 has picked one of the red and blacks best from previous years in gun fullback Sam Dwyer.
Dwyer has linked with Bathurst St Pat’s after starring with Parkes for a number of years, winning the 2017 Group 11 player of the year gong and playing with that competition’s under 23s side just last year.
“Sam’s just a live wire,” Osborne said.
“I’ve not seen their team yet but they’ll be smarting with a few of their guys leaving and now playing here.”
Aside from Dwyer, Osborne has named a bumper Group 10 squad including NRL guns Josh Starling and Chris Grevsmuhl.
The pair played NRL last season and Grevsmuhl starred in his Group 10 debut with CYMS last Sunday at Mudgee.
Osborne expected the likes of forwards Brent Seager, Ethan McKellar, Rakai Tuheke, Josh Rainbow and Greg Behan to grow an extra leg on the back of the muscle two former top flight players will bring to the Group 10 fold.
“A guy like Seags, he’s got lots of experience, but he’ll love this,” the experienced Group 10 mentor said.
“Their experience should be invaluable to other players in the pack. Two NRL players in the pack, the rest of the boys will follow their lead.”
The squad was selected after the Bathurst Knockout, the Indigenous All Stars game and the opening round of the 2018 season proper.
Osborne said the standard of football has been impressive.
“A few of the boys stood out in that Indigenous game and it’ll be interesting to see how they translate that form into the rep stage on Saturday,” he added.
Osborne is excited to see the likes of Doug Hewitt in the squad and said it was important players like Hewitt, only just over the under 23s cap, don’t get forgotten about when rep footy rolls around in the future.
The Lithgow-based mentor acknowledged the CRL will likely stick with its under 23s program for the future, which he dubbed “a shame”, but said it was pleasing this area was prepared to run a first grade game as well.
“But they’re not going to go anywhere (after this weekend), and that’s the disappointing part,” he said.
Group 10 chairman Linore Zamparini said it was important to win this Saturday’s first grade game due to the winner earning their respective group hosting rights for the inuagural NAB Challenge, which will see the winners of each competition’s four grades play off mid-September.
“It’s a game we want to win,” Zamparini said.