The trip to the irrigated flatlands of Griffith engendered a sense of dread in the local rugby fraternity not so long ago, but tomorrow Tumut will head into their clash against the Blacks full of confidence.
For so long a powerhouse in the Southern Inland Rugby Union competition, Griffith has fallen on hard times in 2017 and are winless after 10 rounds of action.
In a role-reversal to just a few years ago, MIA neighbour Leeton has risen to the top of the competition standings while Griffith props up every other team.
However, Tumut five-eighth Harrison Friswell said his team would not be taking the Blacks lightly.
“We won’t be thinking ‘oh, it’s Griffith, we’re in for an easy game’,” Friswell said. “It’ll be tough over there and we know we have a job to do.”
The UK import said the Bulls would be focussed on implementing a relatively new game-plan that has gradually evolved as the year progressed.
Friswell was one of a host of new faces to come into the Tumut line-up at the start of the season and its taken a while for the team to click and to find a strategy to suit the personnel.
Friswell believes Tumut has now settled on a possession-style of football that gives them a real shot at overthrowing competition pacesetters Leeton and Waratahs.
“Earlier in the year I was kicking the ball away when we were in our half, playing for field position,” Friswell said.
“But we’re at our best when we have the ball in hand and use it. I now know we have the players that can look after the ball and build phases.
“That really hit home late in the match against Waratahs.”
Down 38-12 against the Wagga team at Conolly Park a fortnight ago, the Bulls finished with a rush to eventually fall just 38-33 following a 15-minute period of expansive, free-flowing rugby.
That’s the style that can help Tumut bridge the gap to the SIRU frontrunners, according to Friswell.
“We have the best outside back in the competition in Josef Glamuzina and Joe Reynolds is also a tryscoring machine. They’ve really been tearing it up,” Friswell said.
“We’ve been able to create space out wide in the past couple of matches after maintaining the ball for multiple phases and the points have come.
“I think that’s the style that gives us the best chance of winning.”
The English five-eighth has enjoyed his time at Tumut and said SIRU provides a different type of rugby than the game he was used to in the northern hemisphere.
A player who always appears to have time on his side, Friswell straightens an attack better than most stand-offs and as he’s started to hit his straps, so too have players outside him begun to prosper.
“Early on I found it quite difficult to adjust,” Friswell said. “The rugby here is a lot different, a lot faster and a bit more expansive.
“But I think over the past few games I’ve been managing the game better, getting our forwards over the gain-line and releasing our outside backs.”
Away from the field, Friswell said he’s adjusted easily to life in Australia.
He works out at Adjungbilly with John Kingwell, part of the famous 1988 Tumut premiership-winning team.
“It’s a dream come true playing rugby out here, and working with John has been great as well,” Friswell said.
“He’s right into the Bulls.”
Tumut have made a couple of changes to the team that thrashed CSU 63-10, with Morgan Grivas to start the game at prop, replacing Joe Ioane.
Former Tumbarumba Green Will McLennan-Dye has been rewarded for his form in the seconds by being named on the wing.