There is plenty of hype around Wagga City this year after they started the Southern Inland Rugby Union season with two strong wins over CSU Reddies and Wagga Waratahs.
These early results now have City as the short-price favourites for the title.
The hype around the Boiled Lollies means nothing to the Tumut Bulls though, who are preparing for an away trip and a strong performance at Conolly Park on Saturday.
Bulls coach Jonathan Hulks certainly wasn’t shirking from the task at hand and expected Tumut to be in the contest when the whips were cracking.
“Going off the way Tahs played them and from what I saw, I think it puts us in a good position to win,” Hulks said
“City are always going to be a strong team with a few big hitters in their squad but all we need to do is stick to our strengths and work as a unit.”
Hulks touched on what the Bulls needed to do if they were to leave Wagga with a second consecutive victory.
“If we focus on ball possession and securing that ball in our end and just trusting the outside man in defence,” we will go close,” Hulks said.
Unfortunately, the Bulls will be without regular prop Iosefo Morisi, who will be unavailable for a month with broken ribs.
“Mo is out for four weeks. It isn’t ideal to have any starting 15 player out, but I have confidence in the club that we will back it up and present someone with the opportunity to try and cement their spot for at least the next four weeks,” Hulks said.
Hulks is also hoping Jack Heffernan will turn out for the Bulls this week too, with the hard-working second rower one of the best for the club in last Friday night’s win over CSU.
“Hopefully we retain Jack Heffernan. Jack definitely shored up the scrum and he definitely buys into our personal game plan of using picks and drives,” Hulks said.
A result against City would go a long way to proving Bulls are a capable top two SIRU side and worthy of a place in the September grand final.
“It would be a massive confidence booster if we can get on top of City this week. We have a nice strong bench because twos don’t have a game and I think the boys would take a lot out of putting it to these guys,” Hulks said.
Ahead of the Tumut Bulls is a star-studded City line-up, who flogged Wagga Waratahs 47-13 last Saturday.
Coached by former Wagga Brothers and Group 9 star Ben Schreiber, the Boiled Lollies call upon new recruits Peter Little, Richard Herangi and James Olds.
Olds is a particularly good signing, with the former Welsh rugby league and rugby union international scoring three tries in his side’s win on Saturday.
“Obviously, we have a pretty handy bunch of players getting around the club at the moment, with players wanting to play with friends or family and to represent the club,” Schreiber said.
“We were fortunate that James Olds wanted to have a run with us this year and he has a pretty impressive football CV.
“He was really humble and asked to start in second grade and didn’t want to take anyone’s spot and as people would have seen from the result last week, he has slotted in really well.”
Schreiber suggested that there was a good feeling around the City playing group this year, and said strong family ties and friendships had everyone playing for each other.
“It’s unreal to see. What happens off the field is far greater than what happens on the field and the cohesion we have at the moment is really helping gel the team together,” Schreiber said.
“That cohesion is really paying dividends and we are seeing that in our results.”
The league convert admitted he wasn’t sure what to expect when playing Tumut on Saturday, but said if they were anything like the Tumut Blues, they would be in for a tough match.
“I’ve never played them; obviously I played Tumut in Group 9 last year and they are were tough and I expect it would be no different with their rugby team,” Schreiber said.
When asked what his side would be doing on Saturday to get the win, the City coach said it would come down to those key one-on-one match ups.
“Obviously, we will be trying to create mismatches in the defensive line and we are fortunate to have some pretty mobile forwards, so we will want to create attacking opportunities.”
Bulls starting XV: 1. TBA, 2 Lewis Simister, 3. Will Kingwill, 4. Jack Heffernan 5 Coen Potter, 6. Will McLennan-Dye, 7. Will Luff, 8. Jon Carmody 9. Harrison Friswell, 10. Tate O’Donovan, 11. Cooper Carter, 12. Phil Shaw, 13. Tuwame Turaganivalu, 14. Mac Cusack, 15. Mitch Ivill.