With a new coach and a new-look team playing in a revamped competition the Dubbo Rhinos always thought it would take some time to find top form.
But by this point in the season, captain Brett Austin thought his team would be “tearing it up” not rooted to the foot of the ladder.
Injuries have played a major role in the Rhinos’ struggles this year and with just three rounds to go it’s not getting any better, with Tyson Fuller out for the year after breaking his leg playing touch footy.
“We’ve got to get keen because it’s been awhile since we had a win,” Austin said ahead of Saturday’s home game with CSU.
“Everyone has been at a bit of a loss as to what we’ve got to do because nothing has been going our way.
“We’ve got a team that could win the competition but it hasn’t clicked and I thought it would have by now.”
The Rhinos are still a mathematical chance of making finals but Austin is all too aware his side faces an almighty task to steal fourth spot.
The students head to Dubbo this weekend having played some of their best rugby of the season in recent weeks while that game is followed by a clash with the undefeated minor premiers, Narromine, and then an away trip to Mudgee.
“We really, really badly want a win this weekend,” Austin said.
“We still rate ourselves against Narromine and Mudgee but if we can’t beat CSU then I don’t know what we do.
“But in saying that, CSU might be coming into form at the right time.
“It’s doable (for us) but it’s just about getting guys on the paddock.”
In the corresponding game earlier in the season, a youthful and fast CSU side proved far too much for the Rhinos to handle and scored a convincing 42-14 victory.
The Rhinos had an under strength backline that day and while Fuller will be missing at Apex Oval on Saturday, the likes of Ricky Weatherall and Viliame Turuva will be playing.
Turuva missed much of last week’s game against Blayney due to work commitments but his arrival in the second half sparked a stunning comeback that saw the Rhinos go down by just one point.
“Billy (Turuva) and Ricky gives out backline a chance,” Austin said of this week’s game.
The Rhinos skipper added he and the rest of the forward pack would have to work hard in defence to cover diminutive five-eighth Jayden Powell, who will be playing just his second match of first grade.
The action at Apex Oval starts at 3.15pm.