UNDER no illusions, Orange Tigers on baller Paul Jenkins knows he’ll be a marked man in Saturday’s top-of-the-table clash with the Bushrangers at Bathurst.
Jenkins played with the Bushrangers in last year’s Central West AFL flag race and was a key figure in the club’s charge to an undefeated minor premiership, also lining up in the club’s shock three-point grand final loss against the black and golds in 2013.
In need of a change, Jenkins made the pre-season switch to Tigerland in 2014 and has been one of the club’s best in the mid-field as the defending premiers attempt to claim back-to-back flags this season.
But Saturday’s game will be Jenkins’ toughest.
Back playing at George Park for the first time since leaving the Bathurst club, Jenkins is expecting a fiery return to Bushies headquarters.
“I sure will be,” Jenkins laughed when asked if he’d be a marked man in today’s CWAFL blockbuster.
“But I’ll just go out there and play my football.”
Jenkins said last year’s grand final loss was a surprise to some, but not him.
“We probably thought we had it won, but the Tiges wanted it more. I told the boys that at half-time but nothing changed,” he said.
And that as much as anything brought about the move.
Looking for a new club, Jenkins is a class act and one of the pick-ups of the 2014 CWAFL off-season for the Tigers.
A vastly experienced player, the 28-year-old is one of the first players picked for representative Central West outfits and was instrumental in that team’s battle with Northern Riverina at Wade Park in May.
And, more importantly for Nathan Pearce and the Tigers, Jenkins knows how to win.
Tipping a tough contest with current competition leaders Bathurst, Jenkins says if his new team is to come away with an all-important victory on Saturday it’ll have to be through sheer hard work.
“We just need to be hard on the football,” he said.
“Bathurst has probably gotten better (than last year), if anything. I think the Tigers are a better side this year as well, so it’s going to be a tough match.”
Jenkins said he’s thriving in his new football environment.
“It’s been good so far. I needed the change and this has given me something different,” Jenkins said.
“They’re a good bunch of boys and it’s a great club and very family orientated, which has been good with my two kids.”
First bounce for today’s CWAFL top-of-the-table clash is at 2.30pm.