When NSW Rugby League (NSWRL) announced the creation of the Challenge Cup, they compared it to the famed Amco Cup of the 1970s and 80s.
For country fans, particularly in this region, the mention of the Amco Cup immediately brings the story of the famed Western Division side and its unlikely run to the title in 1974 to mind.
While the Challenge Cup may not have the glamour of its predecessor, there is an uncanny similarly between Dubbo CYMS’ involvement in 2018.
The Challenge Cup was created to feature the champions of Country Rugby League’s strongest divisions in Illawarra and Newcastle and NSWRL's Ron Massey Cup and Sydney Shield competitions.
However, this year a number of sides have been unavailable and the invitation was thrown open to Dubbo CYMS, the defending Group 11 premiers, in only the past two weeks.
It has taken plenty of negotiations, largely due to the fact the Fishies were down to play Nyngan in a mandatory Group 11 trial this weekend, but it has been all cleared in the last two days and now CYMS will travel to Newcastle this weekend.
And incredibly, a win over the powerhouse Western Suburbs Rosellas will put Tim Ryan’s men into the final.
“There’s a bit of deja vu about this and the 1974 Amco Cup,” CYMS chairman Kevin Walkom said.
“Western Division was only invited to play in that after some city sides pulled out.
“They were short a team, Western Division said yes and the rest is history.”
While a CYMS win in the Challenge Cup may not be as treasured as Western’s incredible title triumph all those years ago, a win this weekend would be a stunning achievement.
The Rosellas have been one of the main suppliers of talent to the Newcastle Knights for a number of years now, with the likes of Gidley brothers Matthew and Kurt, and Jarrod Mullen all Wests products.
The current squad is headlined by former Australian representative Willie Tonga and former NRL players Brad Tighe and Ryan Stig.
“It’s a great opportunity and chance for exposure of the standard of league in the country and regional areas and it also promotes the players and gives them an opportunity at the higher level,” Walkom added.
“It’s going to be a great hit-out and we’re not taking it light-hearted. We want to be competitive and we feel positive about the whole day.
“The purpose of playing is to win. We’re looking forward to the challenge.”
The match will also offer some of the Fishies’ new recruits a chance to shine, with the likes of Corey Cox, Byron Warren and Jesse Wighton likely to line up while Nick Harvey and Corey Drew aren’t certain to be available.