WHEN Matt Tink took on the role as Central West Rugby Union chief executive officer for 2018, his mission was to make it the envy of other sporting competitions across Australia.
While that might not yet be the case, the restructuring of the competition into three tiers this season has certainly injected a new vigour into players and supporters.
There have still been some score blow-outs, but in the main the move has led to more competitive rugby each weekend and as a result, players lifting their standard in pursuit of glory.
“The talk around the water-cooler so to speak is that everyone is reasonably happy with how things are going, players are going into Saturday knowing you are not going to get the crap beaten out of you,” Tink said.
“I think the generic feedback from the clubs is that the towns are showing up a bit more to watch as well, the supporters, because they can see a bit of a contest.
“For bush rugby players that can be a bit tough, the way the competitions have gone in the past you could have a slack week here or there and it didn’t hurt, but the feedback I’ve got from the players is that every week is hard.”
Now, with the finals series of the top tier Blowes Clothing Cup about to commence, Tink knows there will be more gripping contests to come which will further showcase the competition.
Minor premiers Orange Emus will be intent on making amends for last year’s grand final loss. The 28-20 defeat at the hands of Forbes was its only defeat of the season.
Defending premiers Forbes are still in the finals mix, Bathurst Bulldogs are focused on ending an eight-year first grade title drought and Cowra will host its first final in five years.
Such is the talent of each of those four contenders that Tink can’t pick a favourite.
“It’s really exciting. If I put myself in the position of the coaches, I’d be nervous no matter which team I had,” he said.
“As they say any given Sunday, anything can happen and the competition has been like that this year. You’ve got to get up for it every week.
“We saw that out at Forbes a couple of weeks ago, Cowra were right up for it and Forbes probably mentally weren’t there on the day and Cowra did a job on them.
“Then the week before Emus didn’t quite seem there and Forbes did a job on them. I think the talent is spread very evenly, so I think the mental aspect of game day is a big one for every club.”
Saturday will see Emus and Bulldogs with the need to mentally switch on as they contest the major semi-final, while Cowra and Forbes will do battle in Sunday’s minor semi-final.