The GrainCorp Cup’s three conferences converge into two as of this weekend and Molong Magpies centre Zac White says if his side is to mount a serious bid for a title, its charge toward the post-season has to start on Saturday.
Dropping from second in the Central Conference to third in the Northern Division, the Magpies trail undefeated competition-leaders Narromine and the second-placed Geurie Goats.
But, potentially crucially, the Magpies don’t have to play Narromine until the last regular season round and they won’t have to face Geurie at all until the finals.
Molong travels to Wellington this weekend to face the Redbacks before hosting Coolah, both those sides have just one win.
The latter, Molong has the benefit of playing it twice in the last six rounds too.
“We do build into it a bit with games against Wellington then Coolah, we haven’t got the likes of Narromine, or even (reigning premiers) Trangie straight up,” White, a multiple Blowes Clothing Cup title winner with Orange Emus, said.
“I mean, that could be good or bad depending on how you look at it, but considering I don’t really think we’ve clicked yet this year having sides like Wellington and Coolah early is probably a good thing.
“They’re two sides I’d say we’re probably on par with at the moment though, so we’re certainly not going to be taking them lightly by any means.”
White admitted the Magpies haven’t found the form which led them to last year’s decider – they were beaten by Trangie – but he said he’s confident Molong can reach that standard.
It’s just a matter of hard work.
This side has a huge amount of potential, so I definitely think we’re capable (of more).Molong centre Zac White
“We haven’t reached our potential, we have struggled a bit to get numbers to training and that does have an impact,” White said.
“This is it, we’re in the big leagues now so we’ll have to work hard to click. I’ve said before that this side has a huge amount of potential, so I definitely think we’re capable (of more).
“That’s a bit part of the reason I think Narromine is doing so well. Coming from the Blowes Clothing Cup, they’re all used to a lot of structure around the group and we’re trying to build that culture. We’ve spoken about it and I’m sure we’ll get there.
“It does probably need to start on Saturday. Wellington are traditionally quite physical, big, good on their home turf from what we hear but it’s really about the basics.
“If we can do that stuff well, sticking first-up tackles, working hard at the breakdown and that sort of thing, I think we should do well.”
Blayney led the Central Conference before the merger, and is on top of the Southern Division after it.
The Rams have plenty of competition from the Cootamundra Tri-Colours and Temora Tuskers, one and seven points behind in second and third respectively.
Blayney hosts Cootamundra this weekend, in a rematch of last year’s Southern grand final. CSU Orange travels to Coolah, all games kick off at 3.15pm.