HAVING grown up around bush footy up on the state’s northern rivers, South Sydney Rabbitohs winger Matt King knows the importance Country Rugby League holds in rural communities.
To say the larger-than-life character was impressed by Sunday’s bumper crowd on hand to cheer on Orange Hawks and Orange CYMS in the 2013 grand final is an understatement larger than King’s afro hair-do.
“It’s awesome,” King, originally from Casino, enthused, .
“I’m from the bush, from the northern rivers, so I know what country rugby league means to a lot of people.
“To see so many people turn out for a pretty big occasion is awesome.”
But has King seen the kind of crowd at Wade Park, all 5000 of them on a glorious Sunday afternoon?
“Only for grand finals,” he said.
“I believe it’s the first grand final two Orange sides have played against each other, it’s really cool to be out here amongst it.”
King was on hand to present the winners’ medals to CYMS after the green and golds held on to defeat Hawks 22-14.
The 219-game veteran also handed out the medals for under 18s and first division.
He was rapt to be there to present CYMS players with their awards.
“I’m obviously really good mates with Mick [Sullivan] so to see the CYMS boys get up was awesome,” he added.
THEY may have been on the other end of the 22-14 scoreline in Sunday’s grand final, but Orange Hawks mentor Tim Mortimer lapped up the occasion at Wade Park.
In front of a crowd that generated the biggest gate taking Group 10 has seen, Mortimer said the atmosphere was electric.
“It was great to be part of the day,” he said, adding the lead-up to the game was as good as the contest itself.
“As a fan, I was so excited for the fact Orange had two teams. Sometimes this week I’d forget I was a player because I was thinking about the derby ... it’s fantastic.
“It took me back to my childhood days.”
The first-year captain-coach said it was disappointing his two blues didn’t win on such a grand stage.
“At the end of the day, I was a player and someone has to lose,” he added.
“It was great to see everyone come out.”