ORANGE City will have an extra motivation when they attempt to defend their 2012 Blowes Clothing Cup title next year.
The Lions won this season’s first grade title but in 2013 Orange City celebrates its 40th anniversary.
First grade co-coaches Steve Hamson and Mick Gray are back on deck for 2013 as are the premiership-winning players.
“As far as we know everyone is back. We shouldn’t lose anyone which is nice,” Hamson said.
“There’s no big retirements anywhere.”
Add to the mix injured captain Josh Maley is set to return next year from a knee reconstruction.
Hamson said all the players are determined to make the club’s anniversary year a memorable one.
“That’s probably one of the big drivers to have everyone there being the 40th anniversary. We’d like to have as good a year as possible,” he said.
Hamson said you can expect to see Tongan trio Sione “Junior” Lafo’ou, Mesui Lemoto and Tatafu Na’aniumotu back on the paddock next year.
Lemoto will head back to Tonga before Christmas and return to Orange early next year.
Lafo’ou is staying in Orange and will link up with Lemoto in February next year when they play for the Spartans in the Kiama Sevens tournament.
Bustling centre Na’aniumotu has indicated he will return for the Lions’ next year as well.
“Tatafu will stay around too. He may do some league on the Sundays but he’ll play rugby on Saturdays,” Hamson explained.
After going through 2012 without a loss, Hamson said the Lions obviously had the basis of a good side which they would use in 2013.
“A lot of guys feel we’ve got a good, young side and we’ve got a few good years in it,” he said.
“This year we used last year’s team as the starting point for the season. We’ll do the same next year.
“The guys who’ve had their first full season of first grade won’t want to let their spot go. Guys like Pearcey [Mitch Pearce] and Gus [Brotherton].”
The coach said retaining all the premiership-winning players was a step in the right direction towards claiming back-to-back titles.
“At least it looks like we’re not going back to square one. We’ll roll on and develop some different aspects to our game,” he said.