Tom Nell and Will Mortimer lined up alongside each other for years, playing “the majority of our junior rugby” together as the latter said, but the script’s been flipped for this weekend’s Blowes Clothing Cup all-Orange derby.
This time, at Endeavour Oval on Saturday, the pair will play against each other and they’ll do it mano-e-mano, considering they’ll both be wearing No.9.
Nell, one of the Lions’ few mainstays in recent years, will play his customary halfback role and also notch his 100th game for the club this weekend while Mortimer has retained his place at base of the the high-flying Emus’ scrum after making his top grade debut last weekend.
“I actually didn’t know anything about my 100th game coming up until I read it in the [Central Western Daily]. If I’d known it was going to be last week I probably wouldn’t have gone to New Zealand,” Nell laughed, he missed last weekend’s shellacking at the hands of Bathurst Bulldogs.
“It’s nice to bring up that kind of milestone against Emus though, these derbies are always good, hard games regardless of how the two sides are going and, even though they’ll obviously be favourites, it wouldn’t get much better than beating them in my 100th game.
”Cookie (Mortimer) and I played together in juniors, then a bit at school at [St Stanislaus College Bathurst] and in colts back at City, I don’t think we’ve actually played against each other before so it’ll be good fun.”
“It’s great for him to make it to 100 games, I’m sure it makes it a bit more special being a local derby and I am looking forward to playing against him but I haven’t given it too much thought, my priority’s to play good rugby,” Mortimer said.
Mortimer linked with Emus this year despite being a Lions junior, plying his trade in the lower grades before earning a call-up in the greens’ 21-6 win over Dubbo Kangaroos last weekend.
“I played with City until I moved to Canberra for uni, after finishing up and getting a job back here I found I knew more of the Emus guys than the City guys, so I decided to give it a go,” he said.
“The club has certainly developed and possesses a great ethos. I was nervous starting up but I think a lot of the guys are from similar backgrounds and mainly love turning up on the day and playing for one another. You can’t ask for a better club culture than that.
It wouldn’t get much better than beating [Emus] in my 100th game.Orange City halfback Tom Nell
“I’m grateful the coaches have put their faith in me. Paul (Ringland) and Jeremy (Wallace) know what they’re doing and I can’t thank them enough for the opportunity, especially in the halves, a position I’m familiar with. All I can promise is that I’ll give it my best shot.”
His “best shot” proved sublime last weekend, Mortimer was among Emus’ best in a gritty win that kept the side unbeaten and on top of the table, he said the greens will look to produce more of the same in Saturday’s derby.
Orange City are at the other end of the spectrum, sitting last with just one victory and while Nell is certain the Lions are capable of upsetting Emus, he admitted they’ll need to drastically improve from last week’s 61-5 hammering at the hands of Bulldogs.
“We saw in round one that we can run with Emus and are capable of sticking it to them … but we need to be better, we need to be more consistent and we need to start winning games soon,” Nell said.
Kick-off is at 3.15pm at Endeavour Oval.