Gunnedah set for Central North kick-off

Open space: Gunnedah second rower Ben Morrison makes a break against Quirindi. The Red Devils kick-off their 2017 campaign on Saturday.
Open space: Gunnedah second rower Ben Morrison makes a break against Quirindi. The Red Devils kick-off their 2017 campaign on Saturday.

After a pre-season that took them all the way to the United States, Gunnedah are itching to kick-off their Central North campaign.

They’ll do that on Saturday against Moree, and with high hopes of challenging for the silverware.

There is certainly a renewed air of optimism around the club with the sentiment that they are in a better position than at the same point last season. 

“Things are looking much brighter than last year,” Red Devils vice-president Sam Leys said.

“We’ve got close to 50 registrations.” Several new faces figure among the list of inclusions to the Gunnedah club, including a prop from England, a half-back from New Zealand, a couple of former Tamworth Magpies and former Robb College backrower Will Archer.

Cameron Mitchell

Cameron Mitchell

That has in turn created a lot more depth, which is something that has hurt the Red Devils in recent seasons, and competition for first grade spots.

“Everyone is having to fight for their position,” club captain Matt Roseby said.

Offering further encouragement is what they showed in their pre-season trials against Barraba and Wauchope earlier this month, especially from a defensive perspective.

“We went the whole day without having a try scored against us,” Roseby said.

The three-way trial followed a 12-day tour of the US in March, where they played the Old Aztecs in San Diego and got to experience a bit of the US.

Roseby was one of the main architects of the tour and said it was a great trip.

“They’re already talking about another trip in two years time,” Roseby said.

He’s been organising end of season tours for the past five years “just to get away at the end of the footy season”.

Though they have been confined to Australia and to things such as the races.

This is the first time they’ve embarked on an overseas pre-season tour.

They originally had two games lined up but ended up only playing the Old Aztecs.

“We played them on a Wednesday night,” he said.

“It’s the middle of their season. (But) We beat them pretty well, which was good.”

He said the club were great, showing them around San Diego.

Much the same as their end of season trips, the main purpose was a bonding experience.

“That was the idea to try and bring the players together,” Roseby said.

“It’s done that.

“You can see that at training, everyone is gelling.”

Another benefit is that they are a lot fitter.

The members of the touring party have been training since December.