Central West coach Dean Oxley was expecting “six to eight” of his players to be named in the Cockatoos’ initial squad after last weekend’s strong showing at the NSW Country Rugby Union Championships and he got that, and then some.
Including Cowra Eagles Chris Miller, nine Blue Bulls have been named in Mat Thomas’ bumper 37-man training squad, which will be cut down to 23 before the Cockatoos’ first game in mid-June.
Miller will be joined by Forbes’ Mahe Fangupo and Charlie French, Orange Emus duo Nick Hughes-Clapp and Tom Green, Parkes’ Dan Ryan, CSU Bathurst’s Lochie Robinson and Bathurst Bulldogs bolters Peter Fitzsimmons and Harry Webber.
“I think Central West surprised everyone a bit at the country championships, they certainly surprised Newcastle-Hunter on day one, but these blokes absolutely, definitely deserve their spots,” Thomas said.
“The way Fox (Oxley) coached them allowed them to really showcase their skills and that translated to strong rugby too, but some of these guys, they just forced us to pick them.
I think Central West surprised everyone a bit.Cockatoos coach Mat Thomas
The Cockatoos squad heads into camp at Singleton on May 19 before their first game against Southern Inland in Sydney in mid-June.
NSW Country finishes its campaign against Queensland Country at the end of June, the 2018 program is shortened due to NSW Suburban Rugby Union not putting a side together.
Central West also has a heavy representation in the Cockatoos Colts squad, eight Baby Bulls earning a nod, while West Wyalong’s Sharnah Stevens and Bathurst’s Mandy Scott also earned a nod in the women's sevens merit side.
- NSW COUNTRY COCKATOOS Central West contingent: Mahe Fangupo, Peter Fitzsimmons, Charlie French, Tom Green, Nick Hughes-Clapp, Chris Miller, Dan Ryan, Harry Webber, Lochie Robinson (Central West).