HIGH calibre teams showing attacking flair and scoring a whole host of tries - that is what to expect come Saturday's inaugural edition of the Western Sydney University Bathurst Nines.
To be held at Jack Arrow Oval, games will feature nine-minute halves and while just nine players are permitted on the field from each team, they can register a squad of 18 and there is unlimited interchange.
It's a format designed to entertain and Nathan Rollinson, a former Bathurst Panthers and Group 10 star who now works for Western Sydney University, can't wait to see the action unfold.
"It's going to be a full day of footy action under the nines format which is really exciting, you'll get the chance to see some of the best country league footballers in action," he said.
"The nines format really encourages exciting play and encourages teams to chance their arm a little bit. You can expect to see a lot of tries and a lot of free flowing action.
"Because it's nines format anyone can win, they really can. It's a matter of taking your opportunities when they're there, but also trying to play a safe brand of footy because possession is key in nines.
"The games are short and sharp, so I'd expect some close action."
Six teams will battle it out for the men's crown - Bathurst rivals St Pat's and Panthers, Orange Hawks, Wellington Cowboys, Orange United Warriors and the Quakers Hill Destroyers.
They will play each other once over five rounds - including a tantalising round one clash between Pat's and Panthers - before a straight final which offers $10,000 to the victor.
St Pat's and Panthers will also field teams in the women's league tag competition, with Dubbo CYMS and Mudgee competing as well. They will play three rounds then semi-finals to determine who will advance to the decider.
"The teams that are in this are high calibre teams in the local competition here, in the Group 11 competition and Quakers Hill are in the Sydney competition, so it should be a really close fought competition in both the men's and women's," Rollinson said.
"This is the first chance a lot of the teams will have to experience some footy this year. This format is a great way to start, it allows them to get the ball in their hands early in the year and hopefully that helps them progressing through with the rest of their pre-season preparation."
It is a pre-season event which Rollinson hopes will become an annual fixture and attract even more teams in the future.
"We think that we can continue this as an annual event and schedule it into the early part of the year from here on out," he said.
"That is the plan, hopefully we put on a really great carnival this year. We've had a lot of support from Bathurst St Pat's and local business come on board to sponsor the event, along with us Western Sydney."
The event is also about community heath and engagement with Orange Aboriginal Medical Service a co-sponsor. The NRL will run a skills clinic, there will be a jumping castle and local business stalls.
Play commences at 9am, with the league tag final at 4pm and men's decider at 4.30pm.
- MEN'S DRAW
- ROUND 1: Pat's vs Panthers (9am), Hawks vs Warriors (9am), Destroyers vs Cowboys (9.30am)
- ROUND 2: Hawks vs Destroyers (10.30am), Warriors vs Panthers (10.30am), Pat's vs Cowboys (11am)
- ROUND 3: Warriors vs Destroyers (noon), Pat's vs Hawks (noon), Panthers vs Cowboys (12.30pm)
- ROUND 4: Cowboys vs Hawks (1.30pm), Destroyers vs Panthers (1.30pm), Warriors vs Pat's (2pm)
- ROUND 5: Cowboys vs Warriors (3pm), Destroyers vs Pat's (3pm), Panthers vs Hawks (3.30pm)
- FINAL: 4.30pm
- WOMEN'S LEAGUE TAG DRAW
- ROUND 1: Pat's vs Panthers (10am), Mudgee vs CYMS (10am)
- ROUND 2: CYMS vs Panthers (11.30am), Pat's vs Mudgee (11.30am)
- ROUND 3: Panthers vs Mudgee (1pm), Pat's vs CYMS (1pm)
- SEMI-FINALS: First vs fourth (2.30pm), second vs third (2.30pm)
- FINAL: 4pm