Luke Michael wanted to come away from Sunday's clash having given all he could for a club that has welcomed him with open arms.
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Speaking after the Macquarie Raiders' comprehensive 48-4 victory over Orange CYMS in the Peter McDonald Premiership reserve grade game, you could have no doubts that he achieved that goal.
"I tried to go out a bit too hard. I think I gassed myself at the start," he said of the energy he felt running onto the field as a Raider for the first time, while still trying to catch his breath.
"It was a good win and a good first hit-out. I felt very sore."
Having moved to Dubbo from Coonabarabran, Michael decided to test himself in 2023 and double up on weekends by playing not only for Macquarie - his first stint in a league jersey for a few years - as well as the Kookas, who were crowned joint premiers in the Oilsplus Cup following a tied grand final in 2022.
"I play inside centre for union, so less running than I'm going to do here playing hooker, but it's good for the legs and good for the body," he said.
"This was one of the best fields I've played on, coming from places like Coona, Baradine, Binnaway and places like that. It's a very beautiful field."
The Raiders raced out to a big lead from from the get-go, and only let up in the dying seconds, when CYMS' Brendan Longley went over in the corner to get his side off the donut.
"You see a lot of teams switch off, but we just kept rolling on in the second half and kept the intensity up," Michael said of playing with a big lead.
"We switched off just in that last minute when they scored, but credit to the boys, we dug in deep."
Having put down a marker for the rest of the competition, Michael believes his Raiders have what it takes to go all the way this season.
"The boys come to training in numbers and are very enthusiastic. We're pretty fit and very solid in defence," he said.
"I think we'll be up there at the end of it all."
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