Paul Butcher is more than impressed with the rugby talent on the Mid North Coast.
Paul Butcher is more than impressed with the rugby talent on the Mid North Coast.

Coach says MNC Rugby can do more

SUCCESSFUL Coffs Harbour coach Paul Butcher has endorsed the push to bring Mid North Coast zone back into the Country Rugby Union Championships as soon as possible.

The Axemen dropped out of this year’s title race after claiming players were reluctant to support representative matches held early in the season.

But re-elected CRU president Bruce Worboys told the Coffs Coast Advocate on Wednesday he’d received assurances the zone would be back on deck in 2011.

Worboys is recommending the coaches be appointed no later than June with a mandate to seek out players during the season willing to form the basis for next year’s campaign.

“If all players put up their hands to play rep footy, we’d have a good side,” Butcher predicted.

“It’s when one or two or three don’t play ... it starts putting holes in the ranks.”

Butcher coached the Axemen three years ago when it was believed the bad old days were finally over and a new era of excellence was about to begin.

However, last minute withdrawals from the squad and a sudden drop in confidence saw the side smashed at its first appearance and things never recovered from there.

“Traditionally strong zones like Central Coast, Illawarra and Newcastle have the big player numbers,” Butcher said.

“Out west they live to play rugby and have 30-40 rep guys to choose from every year, whereas our zone probably has 15-20 high standard potential rep players but lots of fringe players.

“But yeah, it would be nice to have the team back in the race.”

The coach has no doubt the Axemen can hold their own in a given situation.

“Our games against Far North Coast on the June long weekend as an example, we can play with the best of them,” he added.

“One positive is that the standard of some of the forwards in the southern MNC comp is as good as any in New South Wales and we have to get these guys on to the rep field.”

Meanwhile, wet weather has forced the cancellation of Coffs Rugby’s scheduled trial this weekend against Far North Coast under-20s.

However, the following Saturday, March 13, there are two fixtures against Casino Bulls at Coffs Harbour Rugby Park.

“We need to field two teams against their first and reserve grade teams so we must continue to bolster numbers to ensure we have a competitive preparation,” Butcher said.

“The 13th will also double as a sign-on day to pay fees and make sure everyone is registered, with a social afternoon following the match.”

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