High-flying Waratahs lock Charlie Sykes is hoping his side’s set piece dominance will give them the edge over Ag College in this weekend’s Southern Inland grand final.
The all-Wagga affair will largely hinge on which pack steps up to the plate and Sykes is confident his line out partnership with Austin Wallace and Harry Hosegood can sway things their way in the big dance.
“Austin and I have a pretty good thing going on in the line out and he’s a bloody good jumper,” Sykes said.
“I’ve only missed one game this year and Austin missed two when he was away overseas, so the rest of the time we’ve played together in the row and we’ve got a good combination.
“I was a first year player with Austin and Harry last season and we’ve got along really well, so between the two of them I’d say we’ve got some solid options at set piece. I’m really just the back up jumper now.”
Sykes, 25, has been relishing life in the engine room during his second season at Conolly Park after leaving the Tahs late in their 2017 campaign to travel and work in North America.
“I told the club from the start last year that I’d be off later on, so I played most of the season before heading over to Canada,” he said.
“They weren’t particularly thrilled but they understood and it’s good to be back this year. We’ve had a pretty good season so far and it’s a good club to be around with a really positive culture both on and off the field.”
There’s plenty to like about the Waratahs’ chances of going through the Southern Inland season undefeated but Sykes won’t be taking Ag College for granted when the two sides meet on Saturday.
The Tahs enforcer has kept a weather eye on Aggies’ form heading into August and admits he’s been impressed with their efforts, particularly against 2017 premiers Leeton.
“You never know what can happen out there and Ag College have had a hell of a run since the middle of the year,” Sykes said.
“They’ve won almost all their games in the back half of the season and beating Leeton three times in four weeks is a big accomplishment. I don’t think I would’ve liked to play against those boys three times in that space of time.”
Nevertheless, there’s just one game between the Tahs and grand final glory and Sykes is raring to go.
“I think that we’ll go well if everyone sticks to their game on the weekend,” he said.
“We’ll need to keep a cool head out there but if we play to our style against Aggies, we can finish the season on a good note.”
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