Winning is obviously paramount for Eastern Suburbs and Gordon when the Instrust Super Shute Shield rolls in Orange this weekend, but for both clubs, the focus of the visit extends far further than just Wade Park.
It’s about giving back.
Giving back to grassroots rugby union, giving back to the fans and, in a huge factor for the Beasties, giving back to one area in particular which has provided the club with a plethora of talent.
Incredibly, almost 50 per cent of the Beasties’ players originate from regional areas state-wide and the central west has provided a pretty significant portion.
Think the likes of Orange’s Jack Grant, Gus Brotherton, Lachie Stewart, Charlie Cooper and Dan and James Donato, Bathurst’s Charlie Clifton and Luke Cullinane or Kinross Wolaroi School product Cody Walker.
That’s almost a dozen you can think of without even trying.
‘We have such a large player pool that has come from regional areas, it is most definitely a way to give back to an area which has given us so much,” Eastern Suburbs president John Murray enthused.
“Honestly, as a club, we haven’t done much to give back to regional areas in the past. So, we thought, rather than waiting for (directives from) the [Australian Rugby Union] or NSW Rugby we’d take the responsibility of doing so ourselves.
“It is up to the clubs – us, Gordon, Orange City and Orange Emus in this case – to work together to do these kinds of things and we can’t thank all the other clubs involved enough for helping to make it happen.
“We’re all really excited for it, we can’t wait.”
Of those players, Grant has been the only regular in first grade and after a successful return from injury in the Beasties’ 24-22 loss to reigning champions North Sydney last weekend, he’s expected to play on Saturday.
“Jack played some minutes in firsts last weekend and did well, I’d expect him to be making the trip. I don’t think he’d want to miss a game in his home town,” Murray said.
A heavy focus for both Eastern Suburbs and Gordon is on junior development, the two clubs will put the region’s youngsters through their paces in the lead-up to the game.
Eastern Suburbs will host clinics for Bathurst juniors on Friday night and Saturday morning, while Gordon will do so in Orange on Saturday morning.
It is most definitely a way to give back to an area which has given us so much.Easts president John Murray
The Beasties will be at St Stanislaus College at 10.30am on Saturday, while the finer details of the Highlanders’ clinic in Orange are still being finalised.
The Shute Shield clash kicks off at 3pm. The Blowes Clothing Cup local derby between Orange City and Orange Emus is set to kick off around 5pm.
Outside colts, which is on Wednesday night, all the lower grade games are also at Wade Park.
Easts and Orange City will split the gate takings, all profit from food and drink sales will go directly to junior rugby in the colour city.