Here’s to you, boys: memorial sides leading charge at invitational tens

IN MEMORY OF: Westruss Jordan's Tens' Jake Opetaia, Semisi Katoa, Keith Lawson, 
Dan Cheney and Mal Cheney, with (front) Oscar and Levi Cheney, will be among the four memorial sides in action on Saturday. Photo: MATT FINDLAY
IN MEMORY OF: Westruss Jordan's Tens' Jake Opetaia, Semisi Katoa, Keith Lawson, Dan Cheney and Mal Cheney, with (front) Oscar and Levi Cheney, will be among the four memorial sides in action on Saturday. Photo: MATT FINDLAY

There’s almost $5,000 worth of prize money on the line but for the Westruss Jordan’s Tens, Aidan Brice All Stars, Terry Brown Memorial and Jack Blunt Legends (JBL) Saturday’s Royal Hotel Invitational Tens is about far more than that, or the much-coveted title.

All four, as their names suggest, are memorial sides and paying homage to their namesakes is the priority.

It just so happens all four sides look like they’ll be among the front-runners on Saturday, along with Newcastle’s Wanderers Rugby Club.

This year marks the 10-year anniversary of Aidan Brice’s passing and it’ll be the sixth year the All Stars, also known as he Mullets, have competed – the side is also the reigning champions – while the Jack Blunt Legends have been perennial contenders for some time as well.

Saturday is the first time the Westruss Jordan’s Tens have nominated though and it’s also the Terry Brown Memorial side’s first appearance.

The former side is playing in memory of Jordan Cheney, who passed away in 2015 from pancreatic cancer and will feature the likes of Orange CYMS guns Semisi Katoa and Joe Lasagavibau.

The Westruss side will also include Jordan’s brother Mal and sons Daniel and Zach.

We’ll have the whole family up there, so it should be a really good day.

Westruss Jordan's Tens' Mal Cheney

“Semisi and Jake (Opetaia) have been ... talking about putting a side together in Jordan’s honour for a while and they, with Keith Lawson, managed to get a side together for this year,” Mal Cheney said.

“We’ll have the whole family up there, so it should be a really good day. Most of the boys are Orange City guys, and it’s great a few Emus, Hawks and CYMS players are playing with us as well.

“It’s a great way to remember Jordan, we’re hoping to make it an annual thing now.”

Westruss Jordan’s Tens has been pooled with JBL, Bathurst Bulldogs and Red Dog Rugby and will face the Bathurst side in its opening game.

The Terry Brown Memorial unit is taking the field in honour of the former Orange City, CYMS and Blayney Bears star, who played in the title-winning JBL team in 2015 and also starred for the Mullets in their victory last year.

He passed away little more than a week after last year’s tournament, in which he was named MVP.

As a result, the Mullets and JBL sides will also have Brown firmly in their minds this weekend.

“Winning the tournament would be everything for us, if Terry was here he’d probably win it by himself after all,” Terry Brown Memorial coach Jake Johnston laughed.

“It’s more about getting Terry’s family and friends together to celebrate his life and play some footy though.”

Johnston’s side, which features the likes of Brock McGarity, Taylor Smith, Gus Brotherton, Sam and Tom Hill and Terry’s older brother Bobbie, looks to be the pre-tournament favourite.

“We just formed the team out of Terry’s closest mates who were available and his family and they all happen to be pretty good players,” Johnston laughed.

Terry Brown Memorial will face Avoca, Mighty Ducks and Forefront in pool B, while the Mullets and Wanderers have been grouped together in pool A with Blayney Rams and the hosts.

Games kick off at 1.30pm, at Waratahs Sportsground, with semi-finals kicking off from 4.40pm.