It’s been described as the darkest day in Western Division’s history but Rams coach Tim Ryan says his side has nothing to prove against Monaro when the two sides clash in round one of the country championship in March.
Western’s campaign began at Carrington Park on Saturday night, Ryan’s Rams accounting for St Mary’s 26-20, and will continue to build with further trials against South Newcastle and then the Greater Northern Tigers in the coming weeks.
Western will then officially kick-off its country championship tilt at Parkes against Monaro, a region that dealt the Rams a massive blow via a 62-0 round one mauling in the titles’ first year as an under 23s competition in 2017.
While not in charge at the time – Darren Jackson had the reins of Western’s top side that season – Ryan says 2019 isn’t about getting one back on Monaro.
Far from it.
Western also suffered a round one elimination in 2018 and Ryan says ensuring the talent in this region is showcased deep into the country championship was his motivation this winter.
“I don’t know if there’s a point to prove but there is a great deal of talent in western and over the last few years I don’t think we’ve shown that,” Ryan said.
“We’ve certainly got an opportunity to show what we’ve got this year.”
It’s exciting, it’s a good feel to be involved in rep footy.Western Rams under 23s coach Tim Ryan.
That talent got its first chance to impress Ryan on Saturday night.
Bathurst Panthers’ premiership winning fullback Josh Rivett crossed in his western debut while Dubbo CYMS’ Wade Kavanagh, Orange CYMS’ Travis Adelehorf, Parkes livewire Joey Dwyer, Mudgee rake Jack Beasley and Lithgow’s new signing Tui Oloapu all scored in the Rams’ seven-tries-to-six win over St Mary’s.
Ryan was pleased with his side’s first hit-out of 2019 and says the performance of a few players has made selections even harder ahead of the March 10 championship kick-off.
With three trials and at least two competition games, Ryan says playing more games will help Western’s bid to progress deep into the championship.
“We really wanted to play more games this year. We lose six or seven players and that makes it hard, but it is what it is,” he said.
“It was Ethan McKellar’s first game back from injury and he went well, Lachie Munro was good last year and good again on Saturday night.
“It’s exciting, it’s a good feel to be involved in rep footy.”
Forbes pair Mitch Burke and Ben Maguire are expected to come back into Ryan’s squad for Saturday’s trial in Newcastle, both were missing against St Mary’s due to a wedding.