Blackcats return to the Midwest Cup rugby league competition

Top gun: Star signing Jessie Lua Lua will be the stand out player for the Blackcats in 2020, club president Wayne Morgan predicted.
Top gun: Star signing Jessie Lua Lua will be the stand out player for the Blackcats in 2020, club president Wayne Morgan predicted.

The Blackheath Blackcats are back in the Midwest Cup rugby league competition this season, after failing to field a team last year.

And club president, Wayne Morgan, thinks their chances are good.

"Things are tracking along OK... A lot of the players that played in the last grand final win are trying to get things happening again."

It has been the best of times and the worst of times for the Cats over the past few years. They won the premiership in 2015, were runners-up in 2016 but didn't have enough players to compete in 2017. When they returned in 2018, they had a stellar season, going through undefeated and winning another premiership.

Then they were a no-show last year after some of their best were poached.

"After the grand final win, a lot of our better players were offered money to go and play with the Lithgow [first division] team. Because some of the best had gone, the others decided to have a year off," Morgan said.

But they are back, including star performer, five-eighth Jessie Lua Lua. He sat out last season rather than play elsewhere.

"He said if there's no Blackheath team, I'm not playing," Morgan said.

Lua Lua's sister, Autum, and his girlfriend, Bella David, will be coaching the women's Aus Tag team.

The men's side has a new coach in Ben Curley, returning to the town after living in Queensland for some years.

Curly played for Blackheath in the early 1990s, starting in first grade as an 18-year-old, Morgan said. His father was Neville Brogan, a club captain and legend from the 1970s, after whom the canteen at Blackheath Oval is named.

Morgan said Curley was planning to move back to the Mountains and, when he heard the Cats were looking for a coach, jumped at the chance.

He has recently been playing in the veterans competition in Brisbane and Morgan wouldn't be surprised to see him kitted up on the sideline this season.

The return of the Blackcats will certainly give some oomph to the New Era Midwest Cup competition which last year featured only four clubs. Also expected to rejoin this season are the Kandos Waratahs, and two new teams are believed to be ready to sign up.

"There should be eight teams which will make a better competition and more games," Morgan said.

The Blackcats are looking for more players, as is the Aus Tag women's team. The club has secured some strong sponsorship so all players who complete the 2020 season will receive free rego and insurance as well as all club gear supplied.

"There's a lot of people in Blackheath who couldn't believe that, after winning so easily in 2018 that we didn't have a team last year," Morgan said. "We're just happy that we're returning."

Training starts on Tuesday,February 4, at 6pm at the Don Bradman Oval in Blackheath, and will be held every Tuesday and Thursday during the season.

Anyone with an interest in playing is welcome at training. No need to contact anyone first - just turn up, ready to go, Morgan said.