No one is looking forward to Charles Sturt University’s return to finals more than experienced wingman Dylan McPhail.
CSU will return to finals for the first time since 2011 when they take on East Wagga-Kooringal in Sunday’s elimination final at Robertson Oval.
McPhail is CSU’s longest-serving senior player, having arrived at the club as a first-year university student back in 2014.
The 25-year-old has experienced the full transformation at the Bushpigs. He was part of the 2014 team that never won a game and has enjoyed the steady rise since.
“It’s been a big change from the first couple of years,” McPhail said.
“It’s really good now, it’s exciting, especially having seen it through.”
McPhail said the club had come a long way in the five years he has been at the club.
“That first year was pretty tough,” he said.
“I only played a few games because I broke my arm so I watched from the sidelines a lot in the first year but it was pretty tough.
“We would only have 10 people at training so it was hard to do drills.”
CSU now get huge numbers to training, a sign of how far the Bushpigs have come.
McPhail puts the club’s rise down to a dedicated group of volunteers.
“I think originally people at the club wanted to see a change,” he said.
“The committee worked hard at attracting a few players that wanted to stick around and things started from there.”
Pat Noonan arrived as the club’s new senior coach this year and McPhail was confident that the 2018 season could be an exciting one.
“I thought there would be a bit of improvement this year and Pat brought in a fresh approach as well,” he said.
“The boys could tell he didn’t want us to go out there making up the numbers and we’ve been pretty committed on that.”
Now CSU is back in finals, they do not want it to end there.
The Bushpigs have not won a final since 2001, when they downed Ariah Park-Mirrool to claim the Farrer League premiership.
It is a long time to go without a finals victory but McPhail believes the current Bushpigs group are capable of ending the drought.
“I guess anyone’s a chance come finals,” he said.
“It’s going to be solid against East Wagga, they’re a good side and since I’ve been here they’ve always been one of the teams to beat.
“We’ve beaten them before so there’s no reason why we can’t beat them again.”
McPhail, originally from Alexandra, is one of a number of CSU players that have been recipients of scholarships from the club.
He has finished university and now works at Boyce Chartered Accountants in Wagga.