THEIR focus is firmly on guiding Narrabri to a 50th anniversary premiership but Blue Boars co-coaches Hunter Harley and Tom Cullen will be keeping a keen eye on the talent running around in the other clubs over the coming weeks.
That’s as they look to build the strongest possible Central North squad for next year’s NSW Country Championships after being appointed the senior zone coaches.
At the moment they’re trying to get feedback from the clubs and coaches about the availability of players and are hoping to be able to name a preliminary squad on grand final day.
“We’re keen to get as strong a side as possible,” Harley said.
The response has so far been positive.
“A few blokes that weren’t involved last year, or for the last couple of years, have put their hand up to play,” he said.
The championships are being hosted by Illawarra and there’s no doubt the players are there to give the Caldwell Cup a good shake, it’s just a matter of getting them interested in playing.
That is the conundrum, and was highlighted this year with grand finalists Moree and Narrabri having minimal representation.
Despite that, the Kookaburras only missed out on the final on a technicality after drawing with defending champions Newcastle.
The forwards will be a big focus.
“The key to it is getting the best forwards,” Harley said.
The Kookaburras have always had classy backs, but they can only shine if the forwards set the foundation.
At that level, that is where the difference can be.
Harley and Cullen haven’t set a program yet but are looking at a camp towards the end of the year, and also want to try and bring a few young players into the squad to blood them.
Barry Everingham is again looking after the 20s.
He and his coaching team are in the process of selecting a preliminary squad and are planning to also name that on grand final day with a view to holding a couple of camps before the end of the year.
In competition action tomorrow Scone is at home to Quirindi, Barraba and Tamworth clash in a minor semi-final preview, Pirates hosts Gunnedah and the Blue Boars will be looking to secure the minor premiership when they tackle Inverell.
The Blue Boars’ destiny is in their hands with a win ensuring they finish on top.
They are well aware though it’s not going to be easy.
The Highlanders will be spoiling for an upset to finish of the season and were last week a real handful for Pirates, almost pulling off a draw.
Their backs particularly did a lot of damage, and Harley said one of the keys will be not letting them get clean ball.
That will start with the set pieces, and is big focus being their last chance to get things rights before the finals.
“We want to nail them,” Harley said.
They are the cornerstone of the game.
Harley also spoke about sticking to their structure.
In the tight games that finals often are, the team that sticks to their structure the best when they’re fatigued are often the one’s that come away with the win.
Last time they played the Highlanders their structure was excellent.
“It was the best we played all year against Inverell last time,” Harley said.
“From the Pirates game we’re working on our reaction in defence.
“It’s an area we need to improve on.”