Shute Shield: Edmed ‘intrigue’ as Woods consider No.10 riches against Two Blues
By MARK CASHMAN
Eastwood coach Ben Batger has drawn a veil of intrigue over how he will use boom flyhalf Tane Edmed as the Woodies kick off their 2021 Shute Shield campaign against the Western Sydney Two Blues at TG Millner Field on Saturday.
Edmed steered the Woodies to last year’s premiership decider against Gordon and was rewarded with a contract at the Waratahs.
He has done exceedingly well is his time at Daceyville and has been released by the Tahs this weekend to get some game time.
Edmed wasn’t named in the Woods starting side earlier this week with Chris Bell the likely starting No.10 for most of the season.
But when asked about his plans for the young playmaker on Saturday afternoon at TG Batger was intriguingly coy.
“You’ll have to wait and see on that one,” Batger told Rugby News.
Batger also has the services of another Tah in Mark Nawaqanitawase available and also Harry Wilson, who has been named at fullback.
It’s a bit of a conundrum as he searches for his side to gel and work with the combinations that will be about for much of the season.
Whichever philosophy is adopted the Woods will be keen to get off to a solid start.
“I think most coaches will agree that in Round One you need to focus on yourself,” Batger added.
“You want to see all the hard work you’ve done in pre season come to fruition, plus you don’t know a whole lot about your opposition at this stage of the year.
“So against the Two Blues I want to see the guys do all their little jobs and I also want us to win all the effort areas.
“If we can set high standards early and set the bar nice and high it puts us in a good position early on because our aim is to never go backwards.”
Batger added: “In regards to the Two Blues I know they have had a high player turnover but I also know they have recruited a number of very good players and they really get up for this game.
“So if we don’t prepare accordingly we will be in for a very hard day.”
Two Blues coach Joel Rivers has had a tough time pulling together a cohesive combination with a number of players moving on.
But there are some familiar names there in Nick Blacklock, Tevita Vae, Rory Garrett and Riley Jacobson.
Whether that is enough to spring an upset remains to be seen as the Woodies from all reports have been solid all through the trials.
At Nepean Rugby Park, Penrith will host Northern Suburbs and much like at the Two Blues it’s all change from last season.
Emus skipper Andrew Fiagatusa will lead from the front but the cohesion that Norths are likely to bring will be hard to keep at bay.
Norths coach Zac Beer has told his side to concentrate on the processes and not be drawn into the illusion that you must score from every play.
It’s a side that is not unalike the one that played through most of the year and all things being equal they should come away with a win and a bonus point.
IMAGE: SERGE GONZALEZ / EASTWOOD RUGBY