The Group 6 rugby league season officially kicks of this weekend (march 12-13th) with the annual pre season competition. Many sides are coming together well and this year could be one of the strongest & even competition in many years. After the combined competition was abandoned last year two of the strongest Campbelltown clubs, City & Eagles affiliated with group 6 and were accepted, a newly formed team will also join the 3rd grade competition called the Macaurthur Bulls. Easts are now known as the Campbelltown Eagles and have pulled out of bundy cup to concentrate on their group 6 campaign. The comp will comprise at this stage a 10 team first & reserve grade , 8 team 3rd grade comp and possibly two divisions of u/18s. The first round of the season proper will also feature local derbies which will create enormous interest.
The U/18s comp is still unknown but with the inclusion of the Campbelltown sides it will make the comp alot stronger, traditional group 6 clubs such as Mittagong,Camden & Picton will as always feature strongly throughout the year.
Reserve Grade if you look at the previous season the top 4 teams remaining in the finals with the exception of Collegians were Easts, City, Moss Vale & Thirlmere. These clubs have alot of depth and it looks like these clubs have recruited well and will be as strong this year so it may be likely these teams will be the front runners in reserve grade. City are the defending reserve grade premiers.
3rd grade will be an interesting grade to watch this year especially with the new team Macaurthur Bulls who will be based at Oakdale this year. The bulls recently were runners up in this years Kiama nines tournament going down to strong group 8 club Queanbeyan roos. Robertson have returned back to Group 6 after a few years in the wilderness with their grade side, their u/18s were in the combined comp last year and made it to the u/18 div 3 grand final. Appin are defending 3rd grade premiers winning their 2nd premiership in 3 years. Warragamba always feature in the finals and will probably be in the top 5 again this year. Mt Annan will probably struggle for quality especially if the rumoured reports that nearby Narellan will also field a 3rd grade side as well. Bowral will be competitive but cant see them troubling the top sides especially with quality of teams in the competition.
Defending 1st grade premiers Moss Vale are still a strong outfit and have recruited well in the off season. Willie Mcdonald is once again captain coach .Former local junior Aaron Dejager who has been playing for Kiama recently will return to the club as well as Matt Wortz. Also the return of Josh Saunders from overseas will bolster their backline as well as Bret Clarke. They’ve only lost Jess Micaleff and Rhys Lennaduzzi who is trialing with the West Magpies NSW cup team.
Picton finished 5th at 2010 seasons end and were hardly a consistent team last year like the Oakdales ,Easts and Moss Vale .Picton had a ordinary first half of the 2010 season but came home with a wet sail towards the grand final. Momentum & confidence plus the leadership from Gary Dowse got them thru last year, unsure if they can replicate that again this year especially with a new coach at the helm. Last years effort kinda reminded me of the Parramatta Eeels run to the grand final in 2009 .Unsure what player movements have occurred at the club but reports say they look strong again.
Oakdale will be a force again this year and have veteran journeyman half Ron Jones returning to the club. They had an impressive 20-10 trial win over bundy cup side Sydney Bulls so it shows how much quality they have and how well drilled ,coach Brendan Reeves has the side. Definately a top 3 finish for the workers this year.
Mittagong are in a rebuilding phase at present and will trouble some sides this year. They’ve recruited former Thirroul hardman Ryan Powell as capt/coach who is also a former west magpie & St George player. Because they are a young side ,experience may be a telling factor in some of their games this year but could spring a few upsets this year.
Thirlmere are one of the more experienced teams in the comp and most succesfull clubs in recent times. They are reportedly in the player market once again and usually recruit some big name and/or good quality players. Regardless if they do they will be hard to beat once again this year.
The Oaks will be the Darkhorse of this year comp as they have recruited well picking up several players. Unsure where they will finish up but they definitely wont finish bottom of the ladder like they have the past few seasons.
Campbelltown city missed out on the play offs last year but should have won more games than they lost . I’m sure their resolve will be hardened by the signing of Drew Dalton as the clubs first grade capt/coach. Dalton has played around mainly lower grades at Parramatta as well as West Magpies also. A good player but will need to be supported by the rest of the team , can make the top 5 but will need to work on shutting out their opposition when in winning positions something they failed to do last year.
Campbelltown Eagles have ditched their bundy cup side to soley concentrate on their group 6 campaign this year. Due to the points system they have had to be careful of what players to retain from their bundy side. They will give teams headaches this year and have plenty of depth. Tip ,top 3 finish.
Narellan coached by Dane Wooden are relatively unknown at this stage. They have played a trial against The Oaks but no glowing reports about the jets performance would suggest they’ll trouble any teams this year. With other teams recruiting well and looking stronger than last year , the jets may just get left behind.
Camden have retained the bulk of last years squad plus notably added 2009 group 6 player of the year in Chris Browne. He returned to the club but even his inclusion will improve the rams chances slightly ,but with every other club stepping up and recruiting well in the off season, Camden will be competitive but can’t see them in the top 5.
As mentioned before, this year is a very close and even competition and anyone of 6 teams could win on the day. Hopefully the pre season competition may give us a little more insight on how the teams are progressing this year.