With the likes of Wagga Kangaroos, Gundagai Tigers, Young Cherrypickers and Tumut making headlines for key signings before the 2020 Group 9 season, it can be easy to forget the might of the Southcity Bulls.
The Wagga club has been the definition of consistency within the Group 9 competition for the past decade, missing only three grand final appearances in that stretch.
The Bulls have been that dominant recently, they have appeared in the previous four grand finals, lifting the trophy in 2011, 2016 and 2017.
Southcity stalwart Matt Ward wasn’t fazed by the lack of press surrounding their 2020 campaign, and said that their record spoke for itself.
“I still think we are a top four team. We have only signed a few players, but we didn’t need to sign many, we have been in four grand finals in a row now,” Ward said.
The Bulls have said goodbye to some key players recently, with Nick Skinner and Hayden Jeans stepping aside due to injuries, but Ward believes they have found worthy replacements.
“Hayden Jeans is finished, he only recently had back surgery, and Skins (Nick Skinner) won’t be around this year,” Ward said.
“We have picked up (Dana) Ratu and the Hodge brothers (Tyson and Cody Hodge) and while they won’t replace Hayden and Nick, they will fill the holes and bring their own skills to the team.
“We feel like we have filled the holes with some younger blokes, they will add something to the squad and contribute for the years to come.”
Ward was especially excited by the signing of Ratu, who he believes will fit in perfectly with the Bulls after leaving the Kangaroos late last year.
“When we signed him, we thought he would fit in with our style of play, I know he has some ability but I think he could have his best year yet with us,” Ward said.
The Bulls president also praised new captain/coach Nathan Rose, who was bringing some youth and exuberance to the club in his new leadership role.
“Preseason was fantastic, Nathan had a connection with the West Tigers and went down there and learned a few things, then brought them back to the club,” Ward said.
“The boys were fit and firing and it was a shame it was cut short.”
When discussing the season, Covid-19 and the prospect of playing nine rounds, Ward believes Southcity could make a real play for the premiership.
“There are no set things but the boys are doing their own thing with training and Nathan has been in touch with each of them and I think everyone will come back in a good space,” Ward said.
“I don’t think a shorter season will matter, we just need to prepare for the nine rounds and be ready to come out of the gates quickly.”