Central West Junior Rugby Union representative coordinator Jason Blake is certain the under-15 and under-16 Baby Bulls are capable of giving this weekend’s NSW Country Junior Rugby Union Championships “a real shake”.
The fact the tournaments are on home turf, at Bathurst’s Ashwood Park, is a big help too.
Blake also coaches the under 16s, and said both sides will be looking to use that home ground advantage to build on their younger counterparts’ efforts at Armidale last weekend, which netted Central West two third finishes and a fourth.
Dubbo players Jayden Blake, Keiran Rosenbaum and Nick Tighe are part of the under 16s outfit.
“It always nice to play in your own backyard, we’ve been to Kempsey and Lismore in recent years so not we’re hopeful not having to travel so many hours helps us,” Jason Blake said.
“Most of our guys have played at Bulldogs’ ground too, which is a great facility, not just for the club and zone but also for a tournament like this.
“I think a title is a realistic goal for both sides.
“The 15s coaching group (has) set some goals they’d like to tick off, which are mainly about continuing these players’ growth and development and playing a hard, two-day tournament like this will be a real benefit for them.
“As for the 16s, a core group of this side has been together for the last couple of years. We’ve gone from being competitive to just missing out on the final last year, Hunter beat us in the last two minutes to relegate us to the third-place play-off, and they went on and won it last year.
“So we’d really like to give it a good shake this weekend.”
Blake said he’s also looking forward to seeing how the likes of Dubbo’s Tighe and Rosenbaum and Narromine’s Jack Bell fare.
“We also have three guys, Jayden Blake, James Finch and Toby Denyer, who have been away at the NSW Combined High Schools trials, invitation only, but they’ll be guys we look to to step up as well,” he said.
“We’re a pretty well-rounded side, there isn’t actually any real stand-outs, they work hard a unit and that’s been a real focus of the coaching staff, that we’re one squad, one team, not individuals.”
The under-16 side starts its campaign against Central North on Saturday before taking on Far North Coast and Central Coast, while the under 15s also play Central North first-up. After that they take on Central Coast and Mid North Coast, before Sunday’s finals.