ILLAWARRA COAL LEAGUE
Wests mentor Jason Ryles admits Collegians coach Reece Simmonds knows some of his players better than he does but is confident his former Dragons teammate will be reading from an old playbook when the two sides meet at Parrish Park on Sunday.
Simmonds won three premierships for Wests as a player under Paul McGregor before taking the coaching reins in 2012 and 2013 but Ryles doesn't expect Simmonds' familiarity with his players to give Collies an advantage.
"He's going to know a lot of the players better than I do," Ryles said.
"It is what it is but I'm a different person and a different coach.
"We've had a good start to the season but we'll see where we're really at now."
Wests have been the competition's standout team over the first two rounds with impressive wins over Dapto and Corrimal but face a step up in class against the defending premiers.
"It'll be a good test for us coming up against the premiers," Ryles said.
"My thought process is that we're coming up against the best team in the comp.
"They're a big physical team and we're going to have to be ready to play on Sunday.
"I think round one was a bit of a bog heap as far as the weather was concerned so you probably couldn't get a true gauge on what they're really capable of.
"We've just prepared as well as we can as if we're playing the best team in the comp."
Wests were slightly depleted by injury and Easter weekend commitments in their victory over Corrimal but, apart from his own notable absence and that of Country fullback Brad Scott, the Devils will be near full strength this week.
"We've still got myself and Brad Scott to come back but we're pretty close to full strength," Ryles said.
"It doesn't mean anything when names are on paper so they've got to go out and do the job. The guys that came in last week did an excellent job so there'll be pressure on the guys that are playing this week."
Ryles hinted that his own return from an Achilles injury is only a week or two away.