Hamish Gordon has been backed to rise to the occasion in this weekend’s bumper Blowes Clothing Cup clash between the Dubbo Kangaroos and Bathurst Bulldogs.
Gordon produced a stellar performance earlier in the season when the Roos downed the Dogs at No. 1 Oval and is therefore expected to be heavily targeted in Saturday’s return fixture at Ashwood Park.
The talented youngster has shone since being permanently placed in the number 10 jersey, with his kicking game in particular proving a real area of strength for the Dubbo side.
“He’s taken ownership of that role at 10 and that was where he played at Randwick before he came back to us,” Roos skipper Shaun McHugh said.
“He had a big game last time (against Bathurst) and now he’s starting to get a bit of a reputation around the central west.
“Blokes will be targetting him and I’m sure Bathurst have earmarked him, whether they’ve said so or not, and will put the pressure on him.
“But we’ve seen him step up before and we need him to do it again.”
There’s plenty on the line every time the Roos and Dogs do Bathurst and that mutual respect makes it one of the most enjoyable set of matches every year, according to McHugh.
But few times in recent years have the Roos traveled to take on a Bathurst side with as much momentum as the current outfit.
Since suffering defeat at No. 1 Oval the Bulldogs have won four straight matches, that run including success against defending premiers Forbes and the ladder-leading Orange Emus.
“We got the upper-hand against them last time and they won’t have forgotten that,” McHugh said.
“We’re looking forward to it. It’s a good test every time you play Bulldogs no matter where it is. But we’ve got to turn up and have a crack otherwise they’ll put 30 or 40 on us.”
Bulldogs will be without inspirational leader Peter Fitzsimmons due to NSW Country commitments but a number of players are back from injury.
The general bye last weekend also helped the Roos and Tom Sheridan is set to return and add some physicality to the pack on Saturday.
However, the Roos will be missing some backline firepower with young gun Pat Berryman playing for NSW Country colts and the in-form Anthony Golding unavailable.
The Roos head into the match in third place on the ladder, seven points behind the second-placed Bulldogs.
Kick-off is 3.15pm.