GROUP 10 coach Graeme Osborne knows that he could have stronger squad than the one which will line up against Group 11 on Saturday, but he still has faith those who will wear the sky blue and white can win the Western region battle.
It's because Osborne has witnessed first-hand the way pulling on a Group 10 jumper can make a team of underdogs rise to a challenge.
Two years ago when Group 10 last met Group 11, selector Royce George had to recruit lock Jake Betts while he was eating dinner at the pub on Friday night then Osborne was forced to pull Keelan Bresac from the crowd on game day.
But that underdog Group 10 side beat Group 11 in Forbes, posting a 22-14 win.
"We had to actually pull Keelan Bresac out of the crowd at Forbes because two blokes informed us on the morning of the game they weren't playing, " Osborne recalled.
"We actually went up there with a 16-player squad and pulled Keelan out of the crowd because he was up there watching his girlfriend play league tag."
This year as the Group 10 versus Group 11 clash returns to the calendar - it did not go ahead in 2020 due to COVID-19 - Osborne was again happy to return as coach.
He would have loved for his squad to include more talents from within Group 10's ranks who have previously played in the NRL or in higher tier NSWRL competitions.
He's also had players forced to withdraw due to injury, yet he is still excited with the line-up he has at his disposal.
"The disappointing part is probably that a lot of players come into the Group to play with a club side, but then don't want to represent," Osborne said.
"I know there are a lot of NRL players that have come back for a family reason or money reason or relocation reason, but it's disappointing that they come into the Group, benefit from the Group, then don't want to represent the Group.
"That's where it gets hard at times. If you could pick your best side it would be a really strong side, but the the team we have picked is still a really strong side anyway."
Group 10's halves combination of St Pat's Tyler Colley and Orange Hawks Toby Westcott do bring with them the experience of playing in a higher-tier NSWRL competition.
Colley played SG Ball for the Cronulla Sharks earlier this year while Westcott played Jersey Flegg with Canberra in 2019 and lined up for the North Sydney Bears last season.
The forward pack is not the biggest Group 10 has fielded, but they lack nothing when it comes to fitness, mobility or heart. It is something Osborne thinks will serve them well on Saturday.
- Your look at the Lithgow Workies Wolves in action against Mudgee
- Sharnie's Boys crowned the worthy champions of the Autumn Table Tennis competition
- A slow start but Lithgow Panthers take another win against Bathurst Souths
- Fourth for De Losa at the Stihl Australian Trophy, but he's ready to bounce back
"I think when you look at the side, all of the players in that squad can play 80 minutes. I don't think there's any dramas with the fitness of those players, so it's going to be interesting trying to get the reserves onto the park and give them a good run," he said.
"I think even in the front row with [Jed] Bettsy and Case Burgess. I think Case did play 80 minutes against us down here in Lithgow and I think he did again last Saturday night in Mudgee and Bettsy he just goes all day.
"The back-rowers, they just work, Greg Alderson plays 80 minutes for me [in Lithgow's side] every week ... we've got the exact same level of player on the bench as we have on the field."
Osborne, who has not only coached Group 10 but "played under 18s way back when", said even though the clash with Group 11 will not serve as a Western selection as has been the case in the past, he expects the passion to be as strong as always.
"I don't think you lose that passion," he said. "The commitment in under 18s is about sticking yourself out there so people can see you, but once you get into the grade it's about the passion and reward as being known as the better Group."
Under Osborne Group 10 has won the last two Western showdowns, their surprise win in 2019 coming after they bettered Group 11 to the tune of 40-28 at Bathurst in 2018.
Prior to that, Group 11 won in 2017 when it was under 23s (26-24) as well as the 2016 (38-18) and 2015 (14-6) fixtures.
To attend the match, as well as the under 18s and league tag fixtures to be played at Lithgow's Tony Luchetti Sportsground, tickets must be purchased.
League tag is set to kick-off at 12.30pm, under 18s at 1.30pm and the opens at 2.45pm.
GROUP 10: 1 Jayden Brown (Mudgee Dragons), 2 Desi Doolan (Bathurst Panthers), 3 Jeremy Gordon (Bathurst Panthers), 4 Keelan Bresac (Bathurst Panthers), 5 Addison Williams (Orange CYMS), 6 Toby Westcott (Orange Hawks), 7 Tyler Colley (St Pat's), 8 Jed Betts (Bathurst Panthers), 9 Nick Loader (Bathurst Panthers), 10 Casey Burgess (Mudgee Dragons), 11 Greg Alderson (Lithgow Workies), 12 Joe Duffy (Orange CYMS), 13 Jake Betts (Bathurst Panthers). Reserves: 14 Andrew Bain (Lithgow Workies), 15 Ethan Bereyne (Orange CYMS), 16 Dave Sellers (Bathurst Panthers), 18 Cody Godden (Mudgee Dragons).
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can access our trusted content: