Not since the St George Dragons won 11 consecutive Premierships between 1956-1966 have we seen a rugby league team experience the same period of dominance as the current Western Australia state team.
In 2019, WA have the chance to edge closer to the Dragons’ milestone when they aim to complete a ‘Decade of Dominance’ at this week’s Combined Affiliated States (CAS) Championships.
Having won the last nine championships on the bounce, coach Darren Shaw says his side are still as determined than ever to keep the CAS title in WA.
“We won’t get too stressed about it [the milestone],” Shaw said.
“As long as do the little things right I’m sure we’ll maintain that record.”
In his second year at the helm, Shaw admits his side learnt a lot from last year’s tournament – where they retained the title on a countback despite losing their final game of the tournament to the Northern Territory 15-14.
“It was a good experience for me last year as my first time going to the tournament,” Shaw said.
“Being at the top we’re going to be looked at to try and get beaten so we need to be on our game.”
Shaw admits his side will have a target on their backs when they arrive in Darwin next week but believes the playing group are up to the challenge.
“It comes with the last nine years – all of the other teams want to beat us and someone wants to take over the mantle,” he said.
“We know people are coming to get us – the players are really looking forward to it and I’m sure they’ll accept that challenge.”
Delane Edwards, Bjorn Crotty, Brad Gibson, Nathan Searle and Kani Solomon headline a core group of returning players from last year’s title-winning team, while young-guns Will Smith, Jarrad Smith and Brandon Wright earn first-time call-ups.
“We’ve got a mixture of youth – there’s a real good blend,” Shaw said.
“Our training sessions have been fantastic – everyone’s gelled really well.”
Shaw will be assisted by North Beach Sea Eagles duo John Hough and Matt Doeg.
“I’ve known John personally for a number of years and he’s done a great job with [North] Beach,” Shaw said.
“Matty’s been away as a player and knows the other side of the coin and knows the balance between work and downtime to get us ready for the game.”
WA fly out to Darwin on Thursday 6th June before getting their campaign underway against Victoria the following day.
All the games will be played at Marrara Stadium in Darwin.
Friday 7th June: WA v South Australia (4pm WST)
Saturday 8th June: Northern Territory v WA (5.30pm WST)
Sunday 9th June: WA v Victoria (5.30pm WST)
1. Ben Taylor, 2. Brad Sharpham, 3. Logan Barclay, 4. Kani Solomon, 5. Stevie Aull, 6. Delane Edwards, 7. Eddie Proudler, 8. Bradley Gibson, 9. Trent Trotter, 10. Nathan Searle, 11. Josh Benjamin, 12. Brandon Wright, 13. Bjorn Crotty, 14. Andrew Jeffery, 15. Jarrad Smith, 16. Adam Roy, 17. Will Smith, 18. Julian Wilson-Wyllie, 19. Manasseh Gudgeon, 20. Fernando Ekeroma
Coach – Darren Shaw
Assistant Coaches – John Hough & Matthew Doeg
Head Trainer – Arthur Pitt
Manager – Scott Swadel