When you look at results alone, Dubbo Westside is going to have just one of its four sides playing in the Group 11 finals this season.
It would be easy to say the season is therefore something of a failure, but that’s far from the case.
A number of people within the club said things were starting “from scratch” this year and heading into this weekend’s final round clash with Narromine, the overwhelming feeling is the Rabbitohs are well-placed moving forward.
Steve McLeann came onboard as the club’s coaching coordinator this year and while he has missed recent games after knee surgery, he has been impressed by the work he has seen.
“There’s been some really good things happening off the field,” he said.
“We’ve wanted to be a big part of the community and we’ve had people in the Orana Juvenile Justice Centre and we’ve got two girls in league tag from (disability service organisation) Breakthru and one of the reserbe grade boys too. It’s been about inclusiveness.
“As much as you look forward to getting the results on the field, you’ve got to get that admin and off-field stuff right and I’m quite confident the club is heading in the right direction.”
The Rabbitohs’ first grade has struggled during the second half of the campaign and a loss on Sunday would see the men in red and green finish with the wooden spoon for a third successive season.
Many in the club would feel that isn’t justified after the strides the club has made under captain-coaches Claude Gordon and Matt Naden.
Naden’s season-ending bicep injury midway through the year was a major blow for the side.
“The club is in a lot better position now,” McLellan said.
“It was always going to be a difficult season because we were starting from scratch and the coaches have done a really good job and now we’re in a better position to attract quality players.”
This weekend’s side is again expected to lack some of the quality it had at the start of the year due to injuries and the coaches’ decision to drop players for a lack of commitment.
Despite that, Gordon has been keen to keep his troops motivated and this weekend’s game at home at No. 1 Oval offers the perfect chance to end the season on a high.
The first grade side, as well as the reserve grade and under 18s outfits, will miss finals this year but Westside will be represented in the league tag.
The Bunnies side is likely to finish third and take on Dubbo CYMS in the major semi-final, while the dominant Parkes Spacecats are set to take the minor premiership.
“I saw the first game against Parkes and they really stuck with them,” McLellan said, Westside losing 16-12 that day.
“That was a really good game and there was only a couple of points in it. They’ve shown they can beat anyone, it’s just about putting it together on the day.”
The action on Sunday starts with the league tag at 11am.