Lithgow Workies to take plenty of positives from 2017 season

PLAYMAKER: Lithgow Workies stalwart Jono Van-Veen was again key to his side's success in 2017 however the veteran has indicated he won't be taking to the field next season. Picture: HOSEA LUY
PLAYMAKER: Lithgow Workies stalwart Jono Van-Veen was again key to his side's success in 2017 however the veteran has indicated he won't be taking to the field next season. Picture: HOSEA LUY

Lithgow Workies can take plenty of positives from 2017 after the side fought its way into the finals when they were completely out of the picture in the first half of the season.

This year’s player-coach Chris Rhodes lauded the achievements of his team when the odds were stacked against them.

“We built the club back up to be competitive from where it was. We weren’t in a really good place,” Rhodes said.

“We made the semi-finals and to come from a wooden spoon and not winning a game, having to forfeit two games last year, I think that’s a pretty good spot to be.”

A heavy 32-0 loss to the Mudgee Dragons in the first week of the finals spelt the end of Workies season however Lithgow will be pushing for higher honours next season.

WORKIES PREMIER LEAGUE: Lithgow's top rugby league side kicked a few massive goals this season but they will want to do even better in 2018. Picture: WOLFGANG KEMPA

WORKIES PREMIER LEAGUE: Lithgow's top rugby league side kicked a few massive goals this season but they will want to do even better in 2018. Picture: WOLFGANG KEMPA

The club’s reserve grade side went all the way in 2017 to claim the premiership.

A host of players from first division consistently backed up in premier league and Rhodes said the local young talent promised big things in future years. In particular, halfback Eli Felton is on track to become a permanent fixture in the top grade. 

“Eli’s showed us enough to take over that team if he wants to,” Rhodes said.

“That’s totally up to him, he’s got the talent and the drive to do it so there’s no reason why he shouldn’t be the starting half back next year for premier division.”

Felton is sure to be joined by other young guns such as Riley Allan, Nick Miller and Connor Legge in Workies push to return to the top of Group 10.

Rhodes said doing the basics right will go a long way to helping the side improve.

Eli Felton in action for Workies in 2017. Picture: HOSEA LUY

Eli Felton in action for Workies in 2017. Picture: HOSEA LUY

This all starts with turning up to training.

“If we can win a comp in reserve grade only with half the players turning up and being competitive in first grade… if we can get 100 per cent on top of that, there’s no reason why we can’t be pushing both comps,” the player-coach said.

On the field Workies will need to keep their heads and hold onto the ball.

“The discipline is a big thing for sure. Just concentrating on our own game and realising you can’t do anything about what the person in the middle or the other team’s doing… just control what you can control.

“If you complete your sets it’s a lot easier than tackling all day.”

At the moment, Rhodes is unsure which senior players will return to the field next year. He at least knows he will be giving his body a break before a possible return in 2019.

The club’s management has been looking to get in early on the recruitment front.

“We’re not going to be waiting till after Christmas to start chasing players… I want to help in whatever way I can to try and keep boys at the club or attract more to the club,” Rhodes said.

One key may being playing as many games as possible on Saturday as opposed to the regular Sunday fixtures.

“A lot of our boys work night shift Sunday night which is not really appealing having to play a full game of football and then back up and play that same night so if things stay in our favour we might jag a few more of the old guys back.”

Rhodes also emphasised his appreciation of the Blackheath players who committed to Workies in 2017.

“They all bought into the club really well and bought into what we do... I think they proved to themselves that they were better than playing Mid-West football so came and challenged themselves to play first grade.”

“They all did really well, they’re the sort of blokes you want to keep around your club.”