If you’re a sports fan in Dubbo and you hear the name Nick Duffy, it’s probably fair to sat it doesn’t ring a lot of bells.
He never really hit his straps when playing rugby at home or even when he laced up the boost while playing for Orange’s Kinross Woloroi school.
But now, the rising star is just 80 minutes away from an Intrust Super Shute Shield title.
The former Australian Schoolboys halfback has been named to wear Northern Suburbs’ No.9 jersey in Saturday’s decider against Warringah, which is the red and blacks’ bid for a second straight title.
And if his side does manage that, it will mark another huge moment in Duffy’s rapid rise.
It was only a few short years ago he was playing fourth grade at St Joseph’s College in Sydney but since then it has been success followed by more success.
Duffy worked his way through the grades at Norths this year and has been superb, his consistent and error-free work at the base of the scrum a huge factor in the side’s finals surge.
It was a finals surge that had to come for the red and blacks, after a lengthy mid-season skid.
The Dubbo product and his side won its first six games on the trot, leading all and sundry to suggest they’d waltz to a second straight title.
Then Norths faltered, big time.
The side won just four of its final 12 regular season games to sneak into the finals in fifth, but has produced some scintillating rugby since to progress to the big dance.
Norths took down Southern Districts 47-18 in the second-versus-fifth qualifying final, a showing reminiscent of last year’s grand final performance against Sydney University.
The red and blacks won out over Eastwood the week after, downing the Woodies 42-32 to qualify for the big dance.
Duffy’s side has shared the spoils with Rats this year, each side winning one game each.
Norths claimed a hard-fought 28-26 victory in round one before Rats turned the tables in the last round, winning 18-11.
The will be a real western NSW feel around the final as Eastern Suburbs features a stack of players from regional NSW.
Charlie Couper shapes as a key figure up front while he will line up alongside fellow Orange juniors Jack Lamph and Cody Walker, along with St Stanislaus College Bathurst graduates James and Dan Donato.
Norths have the benefit of home ground advantage against the Rats too, the Shute Shield final kicks off at 3.10pm on Saturday.