TONY Woolnough is a subscriber to the theory a champion team will always beat a team of champions.
It’s why when his Rams side got together at Burrendong Dam for its final camp before the 2019 Johns Cup kicks off in Lithgow this Saturday, the under 16s mentor worked on getting his group of young Western stars to come together as one.
Simply, Woolnough is banking on the best players in the west joining forces to become the best team in the bush.
Woolnough confirmed his 19-man squad to contest this year’s country championship and is confident in the group of players he has to work with this season.
His squad includes St Pat’s junior Josh Belfanti and Bathurst Panthers’ John Mackay.
“There were a few kids that put their hands up during the trials and did really well, but I don’t think it’s about individuals at this level,” he said.
“It’s more about working as a team. If we can do that then we’ll get the job done.”
Woolnough takes over the reins of the under 16s Rams from the hugely successful Kurt Hancock, who moves up to coach the under 18s Western team.
Western’s under 16s won the 2018 Johns Cup but incredibly, not one of those players is back for the Rams’ defence.
Woolnough will work with a whole new squad in 2019, but nonetheless one he’s hoping can reproduce what their past counterparts have done.
Western trialled against their round one opponents Penrith at Oberon in the build up and Woolnough says there’s plenty to work on ahead of the rematch at Lithgow.
“Our completions in that game were well down. I’m very confident we can rectify that and put up a good challenge,” he said.
“I think settling on a team will help us though. Penrith were good in parts but our ball control just wasn’t good enough. It was very poor.
“It is a long pre-season though ... there’s definitely not an off season for these boys. We’ve been going since October.
“It’s getting close now though and we’re all excited.”
Western’s Daley Cup squad was also announced mid-week, with St Pat’s Tyler Colley moving up from the champion, 2018 under 16s side.
Colley’s fellow Saints Ash Cosgrove and Pat Halsey were also named in the under 18s Western Rams squad, as were Bathurst Panthers talents Mackenzie Atkins, Nicholas Barlow, Lachlan Large and Nathan Ward.