As expected following the naming of the 2016 Blue Bulls side, Central West will roll out an abundantly gifted forward pack in their opening NSW Country Championship Richardson Shield clash with Mid North Coast at Armidale’s Bellevue Oval tomorrow.
Head coach Col Jeffs released what will be “very, very close to”, if not the, starting XV on Thursday afternoon, a team list which not only highlights the Blue Bulls’ strength through the forwards, but also the sheer depth they’ll have on the bench.
That bench features a former Shute Shield flanker in Josh Ellice-Flint, an incumbent NSW Country Cockatoo in Dan Ryan, along with the likes of Nas Havealeta, George Quigley, Peter Fitzsimmons and Tom Green, all of whom have past Central West experience.
“We do have a lot of depth, it’s a very, very strong bench which is perfect for this kind of carnival,” Jeffs said.
“We have 12 interchanges each game and with 30-minute halves we need to be on our game, so using our replacements in a smart way is very important.”
John Ellis, Tom Goolagong and 2015 Cockatoos prop Benn Wright will form an intimidating starting front-row, with Nick Hughes-Clapp and John Korff lining up in the second-row, while Andrew Cosgrove, Tom Dewhurst and Chris Miller are expected to start in the back-row.
Tom Nell and Will Oldham will link in the halves, with Filisione Pauta and Jake Davis expected to form an unpredictable centres pairing. Zac White, Matt Spicer and Riley Byrne will line-up in the back three.
“We’re definitely going to Armidale to win and get a shot at the Caldwell Cup again, but you never really know what to expect,” Jeffs said.
“It’ll be tough, we need to win three games to earn promotion, that’s the goal though.”
Central West kick-off against Mid North Coast at 9am on Saturday morning, with the finals and consolation play-offs scheduled for Sunday.
CENTRAL WEST BLUE BULLS: 1 John Ellis (Trangie Tigers), 2 Tom Goolagong (Orange Emus), 3 Benn Wright (Dubbo Kangaroos), 4 Nick Hughes-Clapp (Orange Emus), 5 John Korff (Dubbo Kangaroos), 6 Andrew Cosgrove (Orange Emus), 7 Tom Dewhurst (Cowra Eagles), 8 Chris Miller (Cowra Eagles), 9 Tom Nell (Orange City Lions), 10 Will Oldham (Molong Magpies), 11 Zac White (Orange Emus), 12 Filisione Pauta (Dubbo Kangaroos), 13 Jake Davis (Orange City Lions), 14 Matt Spicer (Cowra Eagles), 15 Riley Byrne (Parkes Boars); Interchange: 16 Nas Havealeta (Orange Emus), 17 George Quigley (Trangie Tigers), 18 Peter Fitzsimmons (Bathurst Bulldogs), 19 Simon Badgery (Orange Emus), 20 Josh Ellice-Flint (Orange Emus), 21 Dan Ryan (Parkes Boars), 22 Brad Pugh (Dubbo Kangaroos), 23 Tom Green (Orange Emus), 24 Moa Kavaefiafi (Dubbo Kangaroos), 25 Anthony Golding (Dubbo Kangaroos)
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