Rugby League is all about camaraderie. The Senior men finished up their pre-season block of training with a Retro Jersey night, a BBQ and a few quiet beers. 

The Coota Bulldogs will be playing a trial match this Saturday at Les Boyd Oval against the Crookwell Green Devils. It will be the last chance for the Bulldogs to hit the paddock, with the club trialing 3 sides on the day with the U17s at 1:30pm, League Tag at 2:45pm and First Grade at 4:00pm.

    Entry to the park will require a gold coin donation and the canteen and bar will be in operation.

   Joint Coach and Bulldogs stalwart Aaron Byrne is looking forward to the hit out.

Byrne severely injured his Achilles in 2017 and it required surgery, but made it back on to the paddock from the injury which may have ended other player’s careers.

He missed the opening 5 rounds of 2018 before turning his hand to the Rugby Paddock in 2019 to help the Tri Colours score an emphatic win against the Harden Red Devils while still pulling on a reserve grade jumper for the Bulldogs the following day.

    There was no Rugby League in Coota under the Bulldogs banner in 2020 and Byrne signed with neighbouring club Junee before rupturing his bicep in the first half of the first game.

    He joined the senior ranks at Coota as a 17 year old and went on to play regular first grade footy from there. He has continued to be a shining light for the Bulldogs through experience and leadership. The club has meant a lot to Aaron over the years and this was confirmed when speaking to Paul Miller, the club’s Vice President, who heaped praise upon Byrne for his commitment to the Coota Bulldogs over what has now been 17 years at senior level.

   The First Grade side will be missing a couple of players but will be directed around the park by Jordan Ballard who will slot into the Five Eight role on the day. Ballard will be a handful for Crookwell and has plenty of experience. It shouldn’t be a worry for him in any way. Byrne said, “The more he handles the ball the better off the team is. He has played a lot of Fullback and Centre, but having him closer to the action at 6 and being the Captain Coach will give him a chance to see things from there.”

   The Bulldogs won’t be taking the Crookwell sides easy. Byrne said, “We are sort of going in blind with the new competition, but we are under no illusions how strong the competition has got in the last 3 or 4 years. It is all new to us. It is more about getting footy back for the local guys and getting that enjoyment for the sport back and being competitive in more matches than we aren’t.”

   The club has submitted a 5 year plan to Canberra Rugby League to be able to compete in the George Tooke comp.

  “It will be a chance to blow some cobwebs out, a lot of guys haven’t played since the end of 2019, it is pretty much about feeling that contact again and having that blow out. We will play this weekend and have a weekend off before Binalong at Binlaong in the first round.”

The Coota Bulldogs are back and will be playing footy, they were founded in 1922, something not lost on Byrne. “Its great to see the club back on the paddock. We are going to celebrate our history, I think it will be when Harden are at home against us during the competition.”

Competition proper kicks off on Saturday, May 1 at Binalong, against the Brahmans and Jersey Girls.