ORANGE City No.8 and stand-in skipper Josh Maley wasn’t expecting his return to Blowes Clothing Cup in 2014 to be a bittersweet comeback.
“The boys did better without me,” he laughed.
“While I was hurt they didn’t lose a game, and won two premierships. It’s great to be back in top grade but as soon as I came back we got done.”
Maley missed the Lions’ back-to-back undefeated premiership campaigns thanks to a knee injury in 2012, before working his way back into rugby via reserve grade last season.
Back to full fitness, Maley said he is expecting Saturday’s cross-town clash to be one of the biggest he has been a part of.
“It will be a huge game,” he said.
“Every team is up for it when they play us and it will be no different. I can’t wait.”
Orange City currently sits second, just one point in front of Emus, and Maley said the Lions are quietly cautious of a resurgent greens unit.
“I’ve heard they’re going well, and they’ve got plenty of speed in their backs,” he said.
“But our coaches make sure we don’t really focus on what other teams do. We know they’ll come fired up, they haven’t beaten us for a few years now, so we just need to focus on what we do.
“We haven’t scored as many points as we could, but our defence has been strong, and the win over Bulldogs last weekend was our best performance so far.
“We’re always confident, and starting to get back to our best.
Lions’ co-coach Mick Gray echoed Maley’s sentiments, saying defence and discipline is crucial on Saturday.
“These games are always good games,” Gray said.
“I’ve always thought the team which gets their defence and discipline right usually comes out the winner.”
Orange City will be without “inspirational” skipper Josh Tremain and the suspended Tatafu Na’aniumotu on Saturday, while Sam Powell returns on the wing.
Orange City and Emus kick off at 3.15pm at Endeavour Oval.
ORANGE CITY LIONS: 1 Harry Collins, 2 Chris Senior, 3 Scott Smith, 4 Chris Barrett, 5 Mitch Pearce, 6 Gus Brotherton, 7 Duncan Young, 8 Josh Maley (c), 9 Nick Quinn, 10 Mesui Lemoto, 11 Cameron Cole, 12 Matt Dillon, 13 Jackson Coote, 14 Sam Powell, 15 Sam Dwyer.