Rutledge on the rampage: veteran has high hopes for title win number three

STUCK IN A RUT: Veteran Orange defender Andrew Rutledge (left) is hoping to lock down the opposition’s attack at this weekend's state championships

STUCK IN A RUT: Veteran Orange defender Andrew Rutledge (left) is hoping to lock down the opposition’s attack at this weekend's state championships

AGE is just a number.

If you need proof, just look at evergreen Orange Wanderers defender Andrew Rutledge.

The 41-year-old has starred for Wanderers, and Bloomfield previously, in men’s Premier League Hockey for over 25 years.

He’s represented Orange countless times, and won two state championships - in under 21s and an open championship over a decade ago.

“It would be nice to win another one, it’s just lucky my body still holds up okay for an old bloke,” Rutledge laughed.

“We had an incredible team the year we won it, and I think this is our best side in quite a long time. We’re expecting to go well.”

Rutledge will return from a two-week suspension for the tournament, and will anchor Orange’s defensive line in the 2014 Hockey NSW Open Men Field State Championships, starting today at Newcastle International Hockey Centre.

Orange will compete in division two, against fellow pool B teams Nepean (1), Newcastle (2), New England and Crookwell. Macarthur (1), Tamworth (2), Southern Highlands, Grafton (2) and Illawarra (2) make up pool A.

“We came second in division two last year, so the goal is to go one better,” Rutledge said.

“It helps that we have so many guys who play for Wanderers, we know each other well on the field. We’ve also got a really good mix of youth and experience.

“Even though we played a couple of these sides last year, it’s tough to know much about them, teams change so much every year.”

Rutledge said Orange will look to play a fast-paced game throughout the tournament, with a system based heavily on player rotation.

“It’s partly what we’re doing at Wanderers in a way,” Rutledge explained.

“Everyone will work together, and share the load in terms of game time. Where we can, we’ll give the inside forwards and the guys who do the most running good long breaks, but we need to be prepared to play with niggly injuries and things like that. We’re very serious about doing well this weekend.”

Orange’s 2014 Hockey NSW Open Men Field State Championships campaign begins at 8am today, against Crookwell. Each team plays each other once in the pool games, before finals on Monday.

ORANGE: Daryl Kennewell (gk), Chris Alport (gk), Lewis Mike, Adam Hurford, Andrew Rutledge, Alex Said, Zac Royle, Hayden Dillon, Al Murray, Nic Milne, Keiran Gentles, Michael Dillon, Nick Sharp, Derryn Allsop, Lee Brady, Tim Eslick.

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