Tony Woolnough is a subscriber to the theory a champion team will always beat a team of champions.
It’s why when his Rams side gets together at Burrendong Dam for its final camp before the 2019 Johns Cup kicks off in Lithgow on February 16, the under 16s mentor will be focused on how his group of young Western stars can best come together as one.
Simply, Woolnough is banking on the best players in the west joining forces to become the best team in the bush.
Woolnough confirmed his 19-man squad to contest this year’s country championship and is confident in the group of players he has to work with this season.
“There were a few kids that put their hands up during the trials and did really well, but I don’t think it’s about individuals at this level,” he said.
“It’s more about working as a team. If we can do that then we’ll get the job done.”
Parkes Marist’s Kyle Mawhinney and Finnley Neilsen are among those called up for rep duties.
Woolnough takes over the reins of the under 16s Rams from the hugely successful Kurt Hancock, who moves up to coach the under 18s Western team.
Western’s under 16s won the 2018 Johns Cup but incredibly not one of those players is back for the Rams’ defence.
It’s getting close now though and we’re all excited.Western under 16s coach Tony Woolnough.
Woolnough will work with a whole new squad in 2019, but nonetheless one he’s hoping can reproduce what their past counterparts have done.
“We’ll finalise the team at Burrendong this weekend. We’ve had limited ball work so far but we’ll rectify that this weekend,” Woolnough added.
Western trialed against their round one opponents Penrith at Oberon on February 2 and Woolnough says there’s plenty to work on ahead of the rematch at Lithgow.
“Our completions in that game were well down. I’m very confident we can rectify that and put up a good challenge,” he said.
“I think settling on a team will help us though. Penrith were good in parts but our ball control just wasn’t good enough. It was very poor.
“It is a long pre-season though ... there’s definitely not an off season for these boys. We’ve been going since October.
“It’s getting close now though and we’re all excited.”
Western’s Daley Cup squad was also announced, with the likes of Jack Hartwig, Rylee Blackhall, Tyerl Colley, Marlin Pollack, Noah Ryan and Elijah Colliss graduating from the champion under 16s side.
And Parkes Spacemen’s Ben Lovett was also named on the side.
- UNDER 16s: Josh Belfanti (St Pat’s), Mitch Cleary (Coonamble), Kaeden Dickson (Orange CYMS), Cooper Egan (Lithgow Storm), Jackson Gersbach (Cabonne Roos), Brandon Hamilton (South Dubbo Raiders), Fletcher Haycock (St John’s Dubbo), John Mackay (Panthers), Kyle Mawhinney (Parkes Marist), Finnley Neilsen (Parkes Marist), Matt Noakes (Red Bend), Braye Porter (St John’s Dubbo), Sam Raumati (Red Bend), Jesse Shorter (Red Bend), Bill Statham (Cowra Magpies), Riley Wake (St John’s Dubbo), Aston Warwick (South Dubbo Raiders), Zac Williams (St Johns Dubbo), Mitchel Wilson (Wellington Cowboys).
- UNDER 18s: Mackenzie Atkins (Panthers), Nicholas Barlow (Panthers), Nicholas Bennett (Mudgee Dragons), Rylee Blackhall (Wellington Cowboys), Tyler Colley (St Pat’s), Elijah Colliss (Wellington Cowboys), Ash Cosgrove (St Pat’s), Pat Halsey (St Pat’s), Jack Hartwig (Forbes Magpies), Liam Henry (Blayney Bears), Lachlan Large (Panthers), Ben Lovett (Parkes Spacemen), Ryan Manning (Orange Hawks), Dylan Marmion (Blayney Bears), Colby Peckham (Dubbo CYMS), Marlin Pollack (Orange Hawks), Noah Ryan (Dubbo CYMS) Thomas Stimpson (Dubbo CYMS), Nathan Ward (Panthers), Campbell Woolnough (Forbes Magpies).