Expect a thrill-a-minute fixture.
That’s the message from Orange’s James Grant, a former Wallaby and a massive advocate for country rugby, ahead of Saturday’s Intrust Super Shute Shield clash at Wade Park.
He’d know too, considering his young bloke Jack plays for Eastern Suburbs and he sees plenty of the side.
“Once you get to the Super Rugby level everything becomes a bit structured, because of the scrutiny they have on them. At this level, scoring points and winning is still paramount, but the guys aren’t afraid to throw caution to the wind to do that,” Grant enthused.
“They throw the ball around, there’s not heaps of kicking, it’s exciting to watch.
“I think there’ll probably be a few Super players playing for both clubs as well.”
Grant, the man in charge when the NSW Country Eagles rolled into Orange, lauded Easts and Gordon for bringing the game to the colour city, a move he predicted to be successful.
“It’s a great thing for the two clubs to be doing. I know they’d spoken about it for a while and the NRC games we had out here were successful, I’d say there’d be the same support for a game like this,” Grant said.
“It’ll be good for the players too, to get out and play in the country. Especially those Bondi boys, they’re out of their comfort zone once they cross the Anzac Bridge.”
Grant said he’s hopeful Saturday’s clash will be a catalyst for a long and fruitful relationship between Easts, Gordon and Orange, but also spark other Sydney clubs to take games to the country.
“A lot of other clubs have big country bases too, links with Orange as well. (Former Emus skipper) Matt Greatbatch is an ex-Eastwood boy, (current Emus skipper) Nigel Staniforth played with Sydney Uni,” Grant said.
“Those clubs have big bases out here, so does Warringah and Manly. I really hope this spurs some other clubs to play outside Sydney.
“I know Tamworth wants to host a game too at their new stadium up there, so that might be an option for them already.”
Echoing Easts president John Murray’s words from Monday, Grant said this weekend’s visit won’t just be about the on-field side of rugby.
“I know John and Gordon president Hayden Rourke are both very keen to engage with the community in Orange, these guys won’t just play and hop on a bus back to Sydney,” Grant said.
“They’re doing clinics and that sort of thing, but these guys are just like country players.
“They train hard, play hard and then enjoy spending time together off the field so they’ll be doing that too.”
Saturday’s Shute Shield fixture kicks off at 3pm at Wade Park, and is the televised game of the round.
It will be preceded by the all-Orange Blowes Clothing Cup women’s, third grade and second grade local derbies, and followed by Orange City and Orange Emus’ top graders facing off from 4.50pm.