FOR the first time in his tenure as Central West Blue Bulls under 20s coach, Scott Hatch will travel to the annual NSW Country Rugby Union Country Championships with what he believes could be one of the hardest hitting packs in the competition.
Hatch has spent several years coaching the under 20s outfit, but never before has he had as much confidence in his forward pack as he does for this weekend’s games at Armidale.
The Blue Bulls are vying for promotion back into the top division of the colts competition next season, the Rowlands Colts Cup.
Their first step to achieving that will be to triumph over the Mid North Coast tomorrow and then, should they achieve that, finding another victory over either Illawarra or Far North Coast the following day.
Illawarra beat the Blue Bulls in a recent trial match, but the Central West team utilised their initial 40-man squad for that trial and were missing several key players.
“We’ve got a very big side. It’s a side that’s big right across the forwards, right through to our number 8 and including our six and seven. We can really play the power game and we’ve got a plan to accommodate that,” Hatch said.
“Going to the Country Champs with Central West you know you’d normally be going there with one of the smaller forward packs, so this year will be a bit different.”
The Central West team is dominated by Bathurst talents, with seven players from Bulldogs and four from CSU in the final squad.
Central West are hoping to find some vigour after their disappointing campaign last year, losing both their top-tier cup fixtures to be relegated to division two for the 2016 championships.
“Mid North Coast are probably in a similar position to us, with a couple of weeks of training together, but we don’t know too much about their players,” Hatch said.
“We’ve generally done pretty well at the championships, but last year was a bit of an anomaly. We took over a really strong side but the conditions turned out very adverse to our style of running rugby. We were pretty much playing in a pool.
“We’ve got a group of guys together who are really keen to play and they’re building up a culture where everyone really wants to be playing representative rugby.”
Hatch said his side contains plenty of players he’d consider ‘key men’ that could turn the tide of a game.
“Our number 8, Dylan Carter, is a Bathurst Bulldog who is having a really big year. He’s been in the shadow of his brother Jaymen, but now he’s coming into his own,” he said.
“Charlie McIntosh is our captain and number seven, who is a great leader in the forwards and strong in defence,” he said of the CSU player.
“In the backs we’ve got Alex Webster from Cowra who has got impressive organisational skills and a cracking step. Adam Plummer is having his first year stepping up and doing well for the Bulldogs and he was picked up in the [NSW] Country under 20s side last year.”
CENTRAL WEST UNDER 20s: Joel Harper, Josh Carter, Dylan Carter, Brad Glasson, Callum Mokaroka, Cameron Sinclair, Adam Plummer (Bathurst Bulldogs), Jack McIntosh, Charlie McIntosh, Tim Seruki, Ethan Kelly (CSU), Tuppi Taekata, Josh Exner (Dubbo Kangaroos), Tia Ravudi (Geurie Goats), James Peters, Aron Peters, Cody Bruce (Parkes Boars), Lachlan Buttenshaw (West Wyalong), Travis Gibson, Corban Selwyn (Mudgee Wombats), Lochie Stewart (Orange City), Alex Webster (Cowra Eagles), Josh Lees (Yeoval).
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