Excitement over this year’s Group Nine competition is building as the Cootamundra Bulldogs enter their fifth week of pre-season training.
With former Canberra Raiders player Glen Buttriss leading training, around 40 players have been turning up twice a week.
That’s up from 12 players during last year’s pre-season.
Lending Buttriss a hand is Aaron Byrne and Gerard Walsh who has returned to the club to improve player fitness.
Buttriss said the solid turnout during pre-season was a good way to start his time as coach.
“I couldn’t be happier with the turnout this season so far,” he said.
As well as solid numbers Buttriss said the attitude of players and their willingness to work hard was positive.
“Blokes are turning up, putting in and that’s all we’re asking for,” he said.
The Bulldogs won’t be heading to the West Wyalong Knockout in preparation for the season – which will kick off on April 14.
Instead the Bulldogs will head to a round-robin trial between Thirlmere and Trundle.
On March 9, they’ll head to Canberra for the West Belconnen Nines tournament and then on March 24, the Bulldogs will travel to Camden for the Paul Dooner Memorial Cup.
The match in Camden will also be raising funds to support suicide awareness.
“Camden have come out here for the last few years, so we’ll go up there and return the favour,” Buttriss said.
A link to Camden has been built by Herb Narvo, Paul Dooner, Stuart Dickinson and Andrew Willis.
That link means the Bulldogs will have significant test – and a perfect lead-in to round one.
Assistant coach Aaron Byrne said Cootamundra and Camden had played twice before, in 2015 and 2017. The Camden Rams has won each time.
“We’re taking it pretty seriously, we haven’t won it yet and it’s our last hit-out before round one,” he said.
Byrne said Camden played a fast and physical game.
“They’re one of the top teams in their group.”
Bynre credited the appointment of Buttriss as a key factor in attracting a large pool of talent to the Bulldogs.