Much has been made of the depth in Dubbo CYMS’ first grade side this season.
Coach Tim Ryan has given a huge number of players a chance in the top flight and while it’s been a positive for the club, it hasn’t made life so straightforward for reserve grade co-coaches Joel Rapley and Nick Wilson.
The sheer number of injuries suffered by the first grade side this year has meant players have been moving up through the grades in 2018, rather than there being an excess of players forcing some to move down, as was the case last year.
For last season’s grand final, Rapley was able to call on Hamish Astill, Shaquille Gordon and Joeby Vetakula. All three had played plenty of first grade during the year.
Things are different this time around.
“There hasn’t been as much of a first grade influence this season,” Rapley said.
“Last couple of finals we’ve been in there’s been one or two well-known players who’ve been able to come back for the grand final but this year the amount of injuries in first grade has hampered that.
“We’ve had basically the same team from the start so we’ve had to really work to build that. It’s good we’ve been able to.”
While the work has paid off with a chance to defend the crown won last season, it hasn’t been all smooth sailing.
Rapley confesses there was some worries early in the year when his side struggled for consistency.
It wasn’t until round eight when the Fishies recorded back-to-back wins for the first time this year, but from there the side went from strength-to-strength.
“There was a little concern after a few losses but I think it was always going to click,” he said.
Click it did and now the coach thinks Sunday’s derby decider clash with Macquarie will be played at a standard much higher than many fans will expect from a reserve grade fixture.
It’s also certain to be heated.
“Whether it’s through mateship or working, a lot know each other really well,” he said of rivals meeting in a decider.
“There’s a lot of egging on during the week and you want to get the bragging rights. It’s going to get pretty fiery because no-one is going to give an inch out there.”
So what can make all the difference in a game that is expected to be so closely fought?
“We’ve just got to complete our sets and minimise how much time their ball players get,” Rapley said.
“If we’ve got the good discipline and good attitude then that will go a long way to us winning it.”
Kick-off is 11.30am.