While Jeremy Smith felt privileged to run out in the Western Rams jersey again and was in the thick of the action last weekend, he was keeping one eye on the performance of teammate Guy Thompson.
Thompson got his first taste of footy as western-based player in the opening round of the Open-Age Country Championships and the Nyngan Tigers recruit impressed off the bench as the Rams stormed home before ultimately suffering a narrow defeat to the Monaro Colts.
Smith was particularly pleased with Thompson's efforts as he's the captain-coach of the Tigers and will be looking to the former Cessnock forward to make a real impact in Group 11 this year.
"It was good to see him run around. It was the first time I've met him," Smith said.
"We've been on the phone plenty so it was good to see him. He's a good runner of the ball and has a strong off-load so he looks like he's going to be quality for us."
While the thought of the powerful Thompson in black and gold is enough to excite Tigers fans already, the focus for he and Smith for now is purely on the Rams.
After last weekend's loss to Monaro the Cameron Greenhalgh-coached side must win against the Greater Northern Tigers in Tamworth on Saturday to be any chance of making this season's finals.
Smith, at hooker, was busy throughout the Monaro clash and he's keen to see his forward pack get more of a roll on against the Tigers.
"It's important we get into the arm wrestle and grind for that first 15-20 and then we might be able to go around them," he said.
"We've got to go through the middle first. We've got a good forward pack and some aggressive boys who can get that go-forward.
"Once we got a roll-on up the middle we're hard to stop because there's some big bodies."
Thompson is one of those big bodies and he and Macquarie Raiders recruit Oliver Gordon provided real punch off the bench in Canberra as the Rams produced a vastly improved second half showing.
But Smith still felt his side was "too frantic" at times in attack and rushed things rather than building pressure and making metres through the middle.
The forward pack remains the same for Saturday's meeting with the Tigers as the only change to the side is Forbes Magpies recruit Lose Siliili coming in to start on the wing in place of Jeremy Thurston.
"We've got to make sure we start well. You only play this once a year so you need to put your best foot forward from the start," Smith said.
Last weekend was Smith's first appearance for Western since 2016, when he last played in Group 11 with Macquarie.
"I was just happy to be out there running around with the boys," he said.
"I've been away a few years and was in Group 3 up on the coast but whenever you play in Group 11 or Group 10 you want to play for Western.
"It's what you aspire to when you're young and I'm just grateful I got another chance because there's a lot of quality footballers around here."
The clash between the Rams and Tigers kicks off at 1pm.
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