Central West won five from six on their New Zealand tour and took plenty from off-field experiences too

GREAT FINISH: Central West Gold come together with Prebbleton for a group shot following Saturday afternoon's tour game. Photo: ROO HARRIS PHOTOGRAPHY
GREAT FINISH: Central West Gold come together with Prebbleton for a group shot following Saturday afternoon's tour game. Photo: ROO HARRIS PHOTOGRAPHY

Adapt and overcome.

While Central West head coach Dean Oxley's the first to admit that may be somewhat of a cliche, he says the ability to do so remains the Blue Bulls' biggest takeaway from last week's tour of New Zealand, one they'll apply come the NSW Country Rugby Union Championships in June.

The Blue Bulls men and women returned from Aoteroa on Sunday evening having won five of their six games across the tour and while results were never a huge focus for Oxley he says they, combined with the group's learnings from a plethora of off-field opportunities bodes well.


Off the field the group watched on as the Crusaders trained before picking the brains of a handful of All Blacks and Black Ferns, and being put through their paces by some of Canterbury's best coaches - including ITM Cup head coach Joe Maddock.

"I'm very, very happy with what's been achieved on this tour, it's exactly what we were looking for. I've never been on a trip that's been so effective in [terms of bonding and camaraderie. A lot of the players are very excited about getting back to their clubs and implementing those skills" Oxley said.

WATCH: Dean Oxley and Matt Tink's thoughts post-tour. Video: TOTAL TOURS NZ

"[Adapt and overcome] is a cliche that's come out of the Crusaders that the Blue Bulls have taken on board, men and women, so when we have a challenge which we face now it's going to be about how we resolve that challenge as a group rather than getting caught up in that challenge."

Attracting the region's absolute best ahead of country week, in Tamworth this year, was a major focus of Oxley's and although more than a dozen of last year's Caldwell Cup squad weren't on the tour, he said those who took their place stood up in a big way.

For the most part he focused on players from last year's GrainCorp Cup - now the Oilsplus Cup - which he had seen very little of, considering he coaches Bathurst Bulldogs they're simply not competitions he sees enough of in the selection process.

WATCH: Highlights from Central West's clash with HSOB. Video: TOTAL TOURS NZ

"We've got a (massive) radius in our zone and for me as a coach to see some of these players I've only seen once in a trial game get selected on a tour then get to them know them as men and then see them on the field under pressure, some rough diamonds emerged," Oxley said.

"To get to know these players, to know what they can do and see their strengths and then their weaknesses as well so we can target some growth there, it all [bodes] well for the next few months heading into the carnival."

After scoring a cleansweep against University of Canterbury on Wednesday night the group faced Prebbleton and High School Old Boys on Saturday afternoon.

The women's side prevailed 19-5 over HSOB's women's side on the back of a huge defensive effort and a double from Orange Emus' Milika Tuinakauvadra. 

WATCH: Highlights from Central West's clash with Prebbleton. Video: TOTAL TOURS NZ

The men's Gold side went down 33-14 against Prebbleton in a physical clash, before Joe Nash's hat-trick led the Blue side to a big, 45-14 win over HSOB.

Central West will continue training between now and country week, with the championships' draws expected to be released soon.