While everyone within the Dubbo Kangaroos club would love nothing more than to have its first grade side contesting the Blowes Clothing Cup finals, one positive of the team’s failure to make the top five is a number of young players can solely focus on the colts’ campaign.
The first grade side finished a disappointing season in sixth place but one major positive was the number of young players in the club getting the chance to feature in the premier competition.
And now they will be using all that experience gained and skills learnt in this weekend’s major semi-final.
The Dubbo Kangaroos colts finished the regular season as minor premiers and travel to Orange’s Endeavour Oval on Saturday to play Orange City for a spot in the grand final.
“It’s good to have all our big players back,” Roos’ captain Ben Knaggs said.
“It’s good to have the full side, it really helps at finals. It helps morale too, the boys are up and everyone is keen.”
Knaggs featured in first grade a number of times during the year, but not as often as the likes of Pat Berryman and Hamish Smith.
As well as those three, Jack Jones, Harry O’Leary Angus O’Connor, Will Mannix, and Jack Davis have all had a taste of the top flight.
“All the boys have been at training, that’s a good sign and there’s a good feel,” Knaggs said.
“Hopefully it all comes together at finals time.
“Patty and Hamish are vital. They’re a couple of wise heads who lead us around. It’s nice to have them back.”
The signs are good for the Roos.
As well as having a stack of players who have made an impact in the top grade, and boasting an imposing regular season record, scrumhalf Berryman and prop Josh Jasprizza went on to represent the NSW Country colts this season.
The Grant Berryman and Simon Petelo-coached Roos outfit won seven of 10 games this year and finished five points clear of the second-placed City.
“We’ve very confident,” Knaggs said, not getting cocky in any way though.
“Orange City is very strong. They’re a very well-rounded side and they have beaten us.
“They’re a good side and it’s going to be very even (on Saturday). There’s no favourites.”
The loss to City came during something of a mini slump for the Roos.
The battle for momentum was tricky with just four sides in the competition but after four straight wins to start the year, the Roos dropped three successive games before winning the last two games before finals.
City also won its final two games of the regular season, much to the delight of Lions coach Fletcher Niven.
“It’s really started coming together (during the back end), but this weekend will be tough, Dubbo are a good side and they’ll have a few guys coming back from first grade,” Niven said.
City boast a trio of Cockatoos colts in Nick Fisher, Hayden Goodall and Hayden Leopold.
Kick-off in the major semi-final is at 11.20am at Orange’s Endeavour Oval.