Dubbo Demons coach Will Bunt confesses he’s been frustrated by his side during the opening half of the Central West AFL season.
Much attention was made of the Demons early in the year as Bunt stated the grand final was the goal for his side and a talent-stacked lineup looked every chance of making that a possibility.
But injuries and unavailability has made life tough for the Dubbo side and it will be an under strength team which makes the trip to take on the undefeated Bathurst Bushranger Rebels on Saturday.
The coach said roughly 15 people will be missing from the team on Saturday, a situation which is becoming all too common.
“We’ve got a pretty good core of about 12 blokes who are pretty consistent but it’s all around that,” Bunt said.
“The core makes it easier but it is frustrating.
“There’s been a lot of injuries and even at training blokes have been unavailable and that makes it hard because we can’t prepare properly.”
Forwards Terry Lyons, Bailey Delaney and Jono Naden headline the players missing this weekend.
All three are key figures for the Demons and Bunt said the absence of that trio alone means his side will start as outsiders at Bathurst.
The Rebels have impressed this season and have a perfect record through five matches.
Bunt stated he knows little of the side and how it will play but added that mattered little, with all the focus on getting the best out of his side.
“I’ve always been a believer in playing your own game and if we can do that well then the other team will have to chase us,” he said.
“We’re going to go out and play our game and see how we go.”
Ben Madigan will again be important for the Demons on Saturday, having been one of the real constants for the side this season, while Kim Woodman and Ben Patterson are two of the players returning this week.
“it’s going to be a tough game there and it’s the start of a bad run for us with a lot of games on the road,” Bunt said.
“It’s always tough but if we can get some form then it will be good for the weeks ahead.”
Saturday’s match starts at 2.30pm at Bathurst’s George Park 2.
While the men’s side faces a huge test this weekend, the Demons women will be confident of another win at Parkes.
The Panthers have battled this season having won just once while Niwa Gotty’s Demons side sits second on the ladder, having won five from seven this year.
That match will be played from 12.45pm at North Parkes Oval.