After a somewhat successful NSW Country Rugby Championship campaign last weekend four Central West Blue Bulls were rewarded with Cockatoos selection, the 30-strong squad was named on Wednesday.
Forbes’ Charlie French and Mahe Fangupo, Parkes’ Dan Ryan and Geurie’s Filisione Pauta stood up, and made an impact when it mattered, Cockatoos head coach Mat Thomas explained.
Well, the first three did anyway.
Pauta was sidelined with an injury early in the Blue Bulls’ opening game and didn’t play another minute, but considering his undeniable class and role as a leader in the Cockatoos program in recent years he was impossible to leave out.
French, Fangupo and Pauta were all Cockatoos last year while Ryan has been previously.
“Dan’s been here before, but at last weekend’s championship he really stood up. He really stood up and said ‘look at me’, he made a big difference to that side,” Thomas said.
“Mahe was in the side last year, he brings a completely different dynamic to the squad than the other two No.9s we have.
“Charlie did really well as a development player in last year’s squad, we did plenty of work with him and he did plenty of work on his own and it’s really great to see him flourish the way he has. He stood up last week and played very well.
“Filisione has been in the side before, he’s battling a hamstring issue and we’ll monitor him but he was included based on us knowing what he can do, and what he has done in the past.”
The Cockatoos have a short but solid program, they’ll play traditional rivals NSW Suburban in Camden on June 4 then take on the Brumbies Provincial side in Canberra on June 17. The program finishes with a clash against Queensland Country in Newcastle on July 1.
The preparation is a tough one though.
“We’ve got a 30-man squad, which we need to cut down to 23,” Thomas explained.
“We’ll do that at one training, trial day which is tough but these guys are all good enough, they just pick it up as soon as they come together.
“One thing we’re really pleased about, every region is represented which is pretty rare.”
- NSW COUNTRY COCKATOOS: Charlie French, Mahe Fangupo, Dan Ryan, Filisione Pauta (Central West), Jack Arthur (New England), Sireli Bainvalu, Nathan Brennan, Adrian Delore, Tim Marsh, Jonathon O’Toole, Dan Sherrat (Newcastle-Hunter), Leighton Crawley, Wayne Ngatai, Andrew Papworth, Andrew Rae, Jesse Roche, Paul Tuala, Henry Yuill (Illawarra), Ben Damen, Mitchell Krause (Far North Coast), Ben Egan, Josh Mann (Western Plains), Bleddyn Gant, AJ Gilbert, Adam McCormack (Mid North Coast), Pat Keen, Simon Newton (Central North), Ethan McInnes (Central Coast),