South Sydney fans are without the usual hop in their gait after the try-less bunnies bowed out of the 2018 NRL season against the Sydney Roosters in Saturday’s Preliminary Final.
But, they say with every dark cloud there’s a silver lining, and for the Valley that bright side will be evident at this weekend’s Koori Knockout (KO) in Dubbo.
Golden boy Greg Inglis – who has had a hand in building the Valley’s latest footy team – is now clear to play for the Wall Street Warriors (WSWs), boosting Macksville’s chances of a victory.
“It means a lot to have him,” club president Stephen Blair said.
“I think it’ll help to lift the boys. He hasn’t played a KO since 2003, when he was 16. And he grew up on Wall St, and in Bowraville, so he’s a local boy through and through.”
With fresh new maroon and white-striped jerseys, the team is raring to go after learning a few early lessons at the Lismore Knockout a fortnight ago.
The boys went down 22-20 against the Tingha Warriors in a Blair family battle royale, despite the WSWs being the first off the blocks to score.
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“It wasn't to be but we gained a lot from that game,” club president Stephen Blair said.
“The Tingha team has played together for a number of years and we had a few personnel changes leading up to Lismore.
“But I think our lineup now for Dubbo is pretty good.”
The numbers have been bolstered for the big one this weekend, and the WSWs are sporting a stellar billing of raw footy talent.
“If we can get through to day two, I think we stand a good chance of knocking anyone over,” Stephen said.
Greg Inglis will be coming in as five-eighth – a position he played for the Storm back in 2007 when they blew the Sea Eagles out of the air to take both the minor and major premierships, and Greg taking out the Clive Churchill medal for best on the field.
Stephen said having Elijah Edwards in the front row team will add a bit of sparkle, while Cameron Blair – a natural-born enforcer – will “add a bit of finesse to the back row”, especially in conjunction with Dwayne Duke, noted veteran enforcer for the South Grafton Rebels.
“Young Tyler Blair has better games ahead of him, and I think he’ll turn it up in Dubbo,” Stephen said.
And Cameron Cohen and 17-year-old Kalani Morris are two to watch out for if they get a bit of open space ahead of them: “They could certainly cause a bit of damage”.
The draw will be televised on Wednesday night on NITV.
Word is that the Nambucca Valley Rams are back with a vengeance this year too; Stephen said it would be an amusing twist if the WSWs drew the Rams in their first match.
The players are to have a light training run together on Saturday morning in Gulgong where they’re staying before heading in to Dubbo to light up the field.
“It's all led to this, the big KO; big risk, big reward and claiming our piece of the statewide Koori KO,” Stephen said.
“And we are very proud of our sponsors – without their generous support we would not be able to participate this weekend.”
The entry levies are all paid up, the Community Transport bus is fuelled up and ready to hit the frog and toad, and the loyal supporters who have been working hard to fundraise for the team are keen to see their Warriors put Macksville on the map.
The weatherman is forecasting an A-1 weekend...it should be a great few days of footy.