Orange CYMS big man Chris Bamford was “gutted” when he found out the Country Championships was changing to under 23s this year, so you can imagine how chuffed he is to get the chance to don the famous green and white of Western on Saturday.
He said after winning a Group 10 premier league title and the player of the year gong in his first year at CYMS, the chance to represent his adopted region against Federation of Italia Rugby League Australia (FIRLA) is the perfect way to ice a huge season.
“It’s very exciting, with no representative football anymore this is as good as it gets,” he enthused.
[I'll] be trying to go forward, hopefully the boys can get on the back of that and work from it.Western's Chris Bamford
“I was gutted when I found out there was no representative pathway for the older guys anymore so when I heard I’d got a call-up for Western I was very excited.”
The former Country and New Zealand Residents bookend will form a brutal Rams front-row combination with Bathurst Panthers’ Brent Seager, one which could provide Western with the perfect foundation to avenge last year’s 34-18 defeat to the Italians.
“We’ll be trying to go forward, hopefully the boys can get on the back of that and work from it,” Bamford said, before explaining he’ll have a few of his teammates’ fortunes in the back of his mind as well.
“It’s a great chance for the young guys to showcase their ability (in terms of country championship selection), so I’ll be doing everything I can to help them show off their skills because you never know who’s watching these games.
“I think I’ll have a leader’s role, I’m really looking forward to it.”
Saturday’s opens game kicks off at 3.15pm at Bathurst’s Carrington Park, after the lead-up games.