Gibbs-O'Neill takes in-form Hawks' reins from absent Mortimer

TOP DOG: Injured Hawks' star Sandon Gibbs-O'Neill will act as mentor for the two blues for the next three weeks. Photo: MATT FINDLAY 0627mfsandon1

TOP DOG: Injured Hawks' star Sandon Gibbs-O'Neill will act as mentor for the two blues for the next three weeks. Photo: MATT FINDLAY 0627mfsandon1

SANDON Gibbs-O’Neill is champing at the bit to take the reins of Orange Hawks, despite having no senior coaching experience.

With regular captain-coach Tim Mortimer in France for the next three weeks, Gibbs-O’Neill will play mentor for the two blues while he recovers from injury.

“Timmy asked me and since I’m not due back to play until he gets back anyway it worked out,” Gibbs-O’Neill said.

“I’ve done plenty of junior teams and touch football, but never any senior rugby league stuff, it should be good.”

Far from being thrown in the deep end, Gibbs-O’Neill said his role would be minor compared to the job Mortimer does.

“There is plenty of experience in this side, they can run themselves,” he said.

“My role is more to keep the boys sparked up and their mindset strong to help them keep winning.

Hawks are gunning for their fifth consecutive Group 10 premier league victory against Oberon on Sunday, in Oberon.

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Oberon defeated Hawks by one point at Wade Park in round two, thanks to a Steve Lane field goal.

“We want to reverse that result,” the injured play-maker said.

“They’re a tough side, and they’ll be strong and up front over there. It’s bound to be freezing too.

“I think we need to play an up-tempo kind of game. That’s what has won us the last few games I think, is high intensity.”

Along with Mortimer, Hawks will also be without boom forwards Kurt McNamara and Chris Anau (injured) while winger Steve Khatter is also in doubt after picking up a shoulder niggle in last week’s local derby against CYMS.

“We’re also waiting to see what happens with the Astley Cup incident,” Gibbs-O’Neill said.

Orange High School’s Astley Cup rugby league game against Dubbo Senior College was called off early after erupting into an ugly brawl, and CRL chief executive Terry Quinn said on Friday all players, involved in the brawl or not, from the game would be stood down from club duties until further notice.

Two blues’ under 18 stars Deryne McKenzie and Max Wolfson are set to be the main casualties from the incident, the former named in Hawks’ second row and the latter set to play as a reserve.

ORANGE HAWKS: 1 Joe Lasagavibau, 2 Steve Khatter, 3 Lawrence Fogg, 4 Jared Brodrick, 5 Alofi Mataele, 6 Keegan Harding, 7 Brock McGarity, 8 Arty Shead, 9 Mitch Hurford, 10 Nathan Warner, 11 Deryne McKenzie, 12 Kyle Byrnes, 13 Travis Bubb.

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