BATHURST Bulldogs' talented trio of Bailey Warren, Joe Kermode and Harvey Thurston will look to deliver the goods when the Central West Blue Bulls' colts side gets set for the NSW Country Rugby Union Championships return this long weekend.
The Central West colts make their return to the NSW Country Championships after last appearing at the 2019 edition, where they finished fifth, and Bathurst's Shane Cantrill is co-coaching the squad in their return to the big stage.
Cantrill said it's great to see a strong Bathurst presence in the team.
"Bailey's a great leader for the boys who talks really well and I'm excited to see how he goes over the weekend," he said.
"Joe Kermode is new to Bathurst and he's taken every step for Bulldogs, and he's certainly got some toe.
"Then there's Harvey, who is out of the Stannies 1st XV from last season, and he's been enjoying his second grade football as well for Bulldogs. I think all three of them will get a lot out of this experience."
Upon last year's announcement of the colts' return to the state-wide competition Cantrill stressed how great it will be for the region's young stars to learn alongside the senior Blue Bulls squad.
He said the sustained interest in the colts' return since that initial announcement has been great to witness.
"It's been really encouraging to see the amount of kids who are putting their hand up to have a game. That's great for the years to come, and hopefully that inspires kids in the future to not only play in the colts division but also seniors later on," he said.
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"The great thing is that we've got kids from Mudgee, Orange, Dubbo and even West Wyalong and we're very excited to see how they go. It's been tough, and distance is going to also be an issue when getting a side together, so to see this come about is a great achievement."
The Central West mentor said he's not too sure what to expect from his opposition but expects a test against some of the state's rugby strongholds.
"I'm unsure about our competitors. Often Hunter, Illawarra and Central Coast tend to be very strong zones, and we play Hunter first up and then Illawarra in the second match on Saturday. Those are two hard games straight away for us," he said.
"I think our forward pack is quite strong. We've got a number of kids that have been playing in the second division on the Central West competition, going up against grown men week in and week out, so that's certainly going to toughen our forward pack up.
"Then there's a couple of handy backs, so if we get some space with our guys hopefully they'll be able to do something with the ball."
Cantrill's confident that the strength of the forward pack can help set up opportunities throughout their matches.
"I'm really excited for Lachie O'Malley, who's been in the Central West program since he was 11 years old. He's one to keep an eye on, for sure," he said.
"I think our back row will also be very handy. There's some great players from Mudgee (Jack Webb) and Orange (Lochlann Jacobs, Bill Brisbane) in there. They've also come through the Central West ranks and I'm excited to see how they go."
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