Western Rams prepare for trial against solid Sea Eagles

Updated: January 16, 2018
western rams v manly trial

The Western Rams will begin preparations for their U16/18 Country Championship title defence this weekend when they take on the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles at Bathurst’s Ashwood Park.

Whilst the Sea Eagles scored comprehensive victories over the Rams in their respective match-ups last season, Western U18’s Coach Paul McDonald believes the match-up is extremely beneficial for the players.

“They’re (Manly) a very solid side… the trial allows us to see who the tough players are that can work through adversity when they’re up against the wall.”

“Two years ago when we played this side, it was 70/30 possession to Manly. From that we selected the boys who we knew were tough enough to handle five-rounds of the Country Championships.”

Having claimed the U18’s title with a memorable last-minute victory over the Newcastle Rebels in 2017, the Rams will field a new look U18’s side this season; with Centre Brock Naden the only eligible player to back up from last season.

“The final make up for the Championship squad could be very young. The 17-year-olds are training well and without knowing the final make up, I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s a 50/50 spilt of 17 and 18-year-olds.” McDonald said.

Despite the change in personnel, McDonald believes the Rams partnership with the Penrith Panthers has been beneficial in preparing the next generation of talent from the Western Region. The Panthers coaching staff organised a Training Camp and have been assisting the players with a training program since late 2017.

“It’s really going back to basics what they’re doing for us. I think it’s a reminder for players that if you do the basics well you can become a successful footballer,”

“The Panthers coaches are making sure the young players can build on their skills and making sure they understand the simple stuff is just as important as the flashy stuff.”

The young Western players received a welcome surprise at training this week, with former Sea Eagles and Newcastle Knights prop Josh Starling (who will play with Oberon in Group 10 in 2018) stopping by to offer some tips to the players ahead of this weekend’s games.

Saturday’s matches will take place at Bathurst’s Ashwood Park, with the U16’s kicking-off at 9:30am and the U18’s taking the field at 11:15am.