Each season, 15 and 16-year-old players throughout the Group 9 competition get their first taste of senior footy, making the progression from minor league to the Sullivan Cup.
For the Tumut Blues, this year could be the dawn of a new era, with the next generation of potential first graders stepping out under the banner of the senior club for the first time.
Leading these 15 and 16-year-old boys is multiple premiership winning player and club stalwart, Dan Roddy.
“I think the big positive is that kids are coming from minor league to the senior league, which is that next generation for the club,” Roddy said.
“It’s a chance for them to be playing with the big boys.”
Roddy, who will have Brad Baker and Mal Ings assisting him in 2020, has been involved with this particular age group for some time, even coaching them for a period during their Tumut Minor League days.
“I got to coach them for (under) 10s through to 12s and Boobs (Mark Booby) had them from (under) 13s to 15s,” Roddy said,
“He (Mark Booby) was probably thinking it was time for someone else to have a crack and it is good for some change every so often.”
Roddy didn’t envision an easy year for the perennially strong Tumut side, which faces the prospect of playing every team in the Group 9 competition for the first time.
“I think they will be competitive but it is going to be a bit of an eye opener for them,” Roddy said.
“Two of the strongest teams have always been on the other side of the competition, in Junee and Young; and Junee on paper have a very good team.
“It is going to be a really good competition, especially this year with it being shortened and with Yenda included.”
Unfortunately, the Baby Blues are a little light on numbers, with the transition to seniors and more Saturday fixtures taking its toll.
“We are struggling with numbers, we only have 15 registered players and we normally would rely on the under 15s coming up to help,” Roddy said.
“Saturdays don’t really suit us and it clashes a little bit with (Tumut) Minor league and we might struggle.
“In previous years, there have been three or four kids that have regularly stepped up and played and we won’t have that this year.”
Additionally, the Covid-19 break in the middle of their preseason has seen a few players drop off.
“With the break during Covid-19, we have had three or four players that haven’t re-emerged,” Roddy said.
The former Blue said his side would work through the challenges and was pleased to see footy returning so soon.
“I think playing is a bonus, I honestly didn’t think we would get there, and things caught up pretty quickly and I hope we can continue to play,’ Roddy said.
“I know the club has plans in place and we are all doing what we can do to keep the season going.”
Roddy explained what he was hoping to get out of his side this season, touching on player involvement and defence.
“My focus is getting the best out of them. I don’t want to rely on four or five kids and I want to develop all the kids and work as a team,” Roddy said.
“I also want to work on defence, from a coaching point of view, that will be our focus.
“We won’t have an issue scoring points, but in most teams, I have been a part of, we have built a good foundation on defensive structure and that normally brings success.”
The Blues will have a good test in their first game of the season, hosting Gundagai at Twickenham on July 18, and Roddy hoped that the next few weeks would help prepare his side for the rigors of senior rugby league.
“We actually had our first contact session tonight, we did a bit of defensive, including tackle technique and structure,” Roddy said.
“We just need to keep working hard and building for that first game against Gundagai.”