AT THE END OF THE DAY | Culture first as bush battlers draw a line in the sand

TOUGH TIMES, TOUGH PEOPLE: Tim Mortimer and Claude Gordon will look to continue to help lift their clubs up off the canvas in 2018.
TOUGH TIMES, TOUGH PEOPLE: Tim Mortimer and Claude Gordon will look to continue to help lift their clubs up off the canvas in 2018.

If you’re involved in sport, coaching, playing, strapping, officiating, the be all and end all is wins. Victories. Premierships.

You’re judged on them. You strive for them. You celebrate them. You play to win.

But sometimes there is more to sport than simply winning.

Lines in the sand have to be drawn. And in the lead-up to last weekend, they were.

Westside coach Claude Gordon dropped a stack of players for failing to turn up to training, despite the Rabbitohs already battling a near-crippling injury toll, while a handful of others couldn’t make the trip to Larkin Oval due to work commitments. 

The result? The Dubbo club was lapped by Nyngan to the tune of 74-4 in a good-old-fashioned Group 11 touch-up.

But Gordon and his co-coach Matt Naden need to be applauded.

As Gordon said in the Daily Liberal, the club has set a standard in 2018, a standard the pair hopes to continue to set in 2019.

If you’re not working to uphold it, you’re working against it.

Gordon blooded a host of under 18s players, those that have shown enthusiasm and been to training, and while a 70-point loss is far from a win, the results will come on the back of such a move.

The standard has been set at Westside, and it’s the same story at Blayney.

Tim Mortimer and his boys have battled similar issues at King George Oval – lack of numbers at training, injury, work commitments. 

Blayney is a far smaller centre than Dubbo, though, so the situation is a touch different.

There, the rugby club and rugby league club have to work together to ensure both are sustainable into the future.

A lot of players double up and play both, and that’s tremendous commitment, but then some just aren’t showing up at all on game day, and that’s just cruel. 

But, again, the line has been drawn in the sand.

Mortimer and the Bears are sticking solid with the boys they’ve got, the boys that want to be there, and while there’s just one win on the board so far this season, the club’s under 18s are firing and there’s a future there that looks reasonably bright.

The wins aren’t there for both Westside and Blayney, not right now.

But the decisions being made by both clubs are setting them up for successful campaigns in the future.

Wins are important, but so too is a strong culture. Both the Bunnies and Bears need to be applauded for putting the latter first.

A 100-minute, semi-final epic … and it’s only July

Semi-final footy, in July. Yep, welcome to the 2018 New Era Cup.

After just 10 regular season rounds, the business end of the second division competition is here, about five weeks before most other competitions, but its arrival was spectacular nonetheless.

The CSU Mungoes knocked off Kandos Waratahs in a 100-minute epic at Diggings Oval in Bathurst.

The hosts came from behind in extra-time, not golden point, to steal a place in the preliminary final thanks to a marathon effort. 

Winter isn't coming, it’s here: Emus gun laps up tough conditions

What did we learn out of Saturday’s top-of-the-table clash between Orange Emus and Bathurst Bulldogs?

Well, put it this way, there’s probably only one man you’d want on your team if we ever get rain again – Nigel Staniforth.

The Emus fullback is in the veteran class, no doubt, but his right boot, and often left boot, dictated terms as the greens ran out to a 26-3 lead in horrible conditions. 

They clocked off, and that’s worrying, but if we get more wet weather, and Staniforth fires, Emus win.

‘This is a team sport, we shine together’

I thoroughly enjoyed the Premier League Hockey gala in Orange last weekend.

The Panthers-Souths game was top shelf. But one moment stood out for me.

When interviewing Feds’ Ellen Warner, I asked her who she wanted to give a wrap to after her team fought hard for a 1-all draw. S

he gave me this: “It’s a hockey game, we play together as a team. If you don’t want to, you may as well go and play tennis.”

Classic. It gives a pretty good insight into Feds’ team-first mantra.