MID North Coast representative coach Angus Anderson believes his side is well equipped to give this year’s NSW Country Championships a decent shake.
They continued preparations for the late-April competition in Warren with a seven-tries-to-three win over St Patricks at Stuart Park on Saturday.
Mid North Coast won last year’s tier-two championship in Port Macquarie and will progress to tier-one where they will face an even tougher challenge.
Making it an even tougher task for Anderson and his team is the turnover of players that saw many retirements decimate the squad.
“We’ve got a new-look side this year; there are only six left from the team that won tier two last year,” Anderson said.
“There are a lot of younger, fresh faces because a few of the older, more experienced players retired or wanted to focus on club footy this season.”
Port Macquarie was heavily represented in the Mid North Coast squad of 26 last weekend, which will be cut in coming weeks.
Dan Willoughby, Tavita Talemevaro, Kaes Besseling, Sam Rogers, Kye Marshall and Scott Munro all put strong cases forward to be retained.
Talemevaro was dominant up front and the rest didn’t put a foot wrong.
“I’d argue it’s a stronger side this season because last year’s team was built on development,” Anderson said.
Every club except Taree, Forster and Old Bar are represented in the team.
I’d argue it’s a stronger side this season because last year’s team was built on development.Mid North Coast coach Angus Anderson
“We utilise the same players, so we try to work it so it doesn’t impact too much on the clubs,” the coach said.
“We worked really hard last year to nurture the players and massage the game of rugby on the Mid North Coast.”
Anderson was looking forward to the challenge of attempting to reach the lofty heights of last year against stronger competition.
“We have never had a side that has competed with the powerhouses of Newcastle, Illawarra and the Central Coast,” he said.
“We’ve refined our style this season because for the first time in 42 years we will have a team in the tier one competition.
“We’re basically a tinpot fishing village in comparison to those heavyweight zones.”
We have never had a side that has competed with the powerhouses of Newcastle, Illawarra and the Central Coast.Angus Anderson
He said players had emerged that wanted to be involved in making rugby strong again on the Mid North Coast.
“We won it last year so that helps because no player wants to play for a team that are the easybeats,” he said.
“It’s a common theme I want from my team and that is that we want to leave a legacy behind.”
The Mid North Coast coach said his side would place more emphasis on taking advantage of their opportunities.
“If we roll out the same things we did last year we will get left behind and we don’t want that; we want to be pioneers.”