ORANGE City Rugby Union president Steve Stone said his club did not chase suspended rugby league players Tatafu Na’aniumotu and Semisi Katoa.
Stone explained the players came to Orange City.
“They came to training with some friends who already play with Orange City and approached us,” Stone said.
Na’aniumotu and Katoa were suspended from Group 10 rugby league in August last year for a combined total of 31 months following their involvement in the brawl during the derby between Orange Hawks and Orange CYMS.
This week it was confirmed the Hawks players had been cleared to play for Orange City by a Central West Rugby Union judiciary committee.
The clearance was finalised last Friday night and they were permitted to play on Saturday.
Katoa played in second grade for Orange City against Parkes.
Orange City coach Steve Hamson (pictured right) said the players would not get special treatment despite having a strong rugby union background.
“Clearly they’re players of first grade calibre,” Hamson said.
“They’ll have to bide their time. We’re not going to parachute them in.”
Na’aniumotu, a centre, has played Test matches for Tonga and made his debut in 2006 against Japan.
He has also played for Suntory Sungoliath, one of the top rugby teams in Japan.
Katoa, who plays in the back row or at inside centre, has played at a high level in Tonga.
“By having them, it strengthens the whole club. They’re two extra good players,” Hamson said.
Orange City are undefeated in the Blowes Clothing Cup top grade this season.
Hamson said the duo would only become part of the top side if they earned their place.
They could come off the bench in the top grade for the Lions this Saturday against Dubbo Kangaroos and are likely starters in second grade.
“They’ve trained on and off throughout the year. They know what we’re about and how we play,” Hamson explained.
“We’ve got a couple of injuries in second grade this week so they’ll probably start in second grade.
“We’ll just see how they go.”
Stone said no special behavioural expectations had been placed on the players.
“They will play under the same guidelines as all the other players with the club,” Stone said.