No Tom Satterthwaite, no Alex Bonham and no Jake Betts, but no worries for Tim Ryan.
Western will lose as many as eight players from its 2018 under 23s squad ahead of next year’s Country Championship race but returning, Dubbo-based coach Ryan says the Rams will be in good shape to at the very least improve on last season’s showing.
Western put together a thorough preparation in the lead-up to its round one clash with Illawarra but was ultimately thumped 40-16, and eliminated from the championship race.
Ryan and the remaining Rams begin their 2019 campaign at Dubbo on Saturday with a training run and NRL welfare session at Apex Oval and the Group 11 premiership-winning mentor says he’s looking forward to kicking things off, with the championship starting in March.
“We’ve put a little bit of a squad together to have a training run because the campaign starts so much earlier this year,” Ryan said.
“We’ll have to kick off a lot quicker. We’ll only have till after Christmas and then five weeks to get ready before the first trial.
“It’ll be a bit different with a new format, so it’ll be a good challenge.”
Ryan said he took plenty out of his first campaign in charge of the senior Western side and believes getting the players together early helps forge a crucial bond any team needs for success.
“I think we did that well last year and although the scoreline didn’t do us a great deal of justice I thought we played pretty well. It’s tough against a team like we played,” he added.
“We lose quite a few blokes but we gain a few again this year.
“We’re excited. We’ll get them all together and get them keen to play this level.”
It’ll be a bit different with a new format, so it’ll be a good challenge.Western under 23s coach Tim Ryan.
Western will play two games this year, opposed to the last two championships where round one losses resulted in first-up eliminations.
“And it’s just over before the comp starts which is much better for the players too. They can play both without overlapping,” Ryan said.
Saturday’s Western training brings together Rams’ under 16s, under 18s, women’s tackle and under 23s sides.
All squads will engage in in-house trials before taking part in welfare sessions run by the NRL. The day runs from 9.45am through to 4.30pm at Apex Oval.