The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Much of the Group 11 landscape has changed since last season’s grand final but the one constant is Dubbo CYMS sitting on top of the pile.
This weekend the Fishies head to Nyngan for the first competitive meeting with the Tigers since the decider last year.
While CYMS are unbeaten at the top, the Tigers have struggled this year and have just one win to their name approaching the season’s halfway mark.
“Every time we go out there they lift and try to put on a show,” CYMS centre Jyie Chapman said, denying any idea of it being an easier task for his side compared to recent years.
“It’s always vocal and it’s always a challenge.”
While the Tigers have been far from their best they have recruited Josh Merritt from Bathurst St Pat’s and Chapman said that will improve the Nyngan side and provide much more direction.
Merritt’s signing doesn’t give CYMS extra motivation or focus as it always instilled in the club.
Despite being top of the ladder for the best part of six years, Chapman said the playing group is always striving to be better and much of that comes from the work done by coach Tim Ryan.
“Everything is rolling along smoothly,” the centre said, this weekend marking the halfway point of the season.
“Each week is a new challenge but it’s been good in camp and there’s a good feel to it.
“It (motivation) is always there and we’re a winning club. That’s why we’re there, because we love winning and being on top and everyone is committed to that.”
Another thing keeping the Fishies on top this season is the fierce competition for places.
The battle for spots in the forward pack has been affected by the sheer number of injuries the club is battling but Chapman said everyone is aware spots are on the line.
“There’s been a lot of competition, especially now with ‘Kav’ (Wade Kavanagh) back (from suspension) and floating around,” he said.
“He’ll have a spot in the starting side soon and everyone is pushing. Timmy has said that at training too, positions are on the line.”
While the likes of Kavanagh, the currently injured Billy Sing, Matt Burton and Viliame Turuva are all waiting for a chance, it’s going to take some special to oust anyone from the current backline.
Chapman and veteran Josh Grey have been as reliable as ever on the right edge but the left-side, mainly due to the form of centre Jesse Wighton, has been electric.
“Jesse is one of the fastest players in the competition, that left side is killing it,” Chapman said.
“We just tell them to keep going and we don’t need the ball. Me and Johnny can just do the defence.
“We run right (edge) against left at training and there’s a bit of banter. The competition is good.”
The likes of CYMS’ Luke Jenkins, Ben Marlin and Jordan Reynolds remain out through injury and will miss Sunday’s match at Larkin Oval, which is scheduled for a 2.30pm kick-off.