Two blues shuffle decks as depleted premiers hit town

Orange Hawks captain-coach Willie Heta has altered the make-up of his two blues premier league side ahead of a massive clash with defending premiers Mudgee at Wade Park on Sunday.

KICKING ON: After starring in his side's opener against Blayney, Willie Heta is hoping Hawks can bounce back after a tough loss against Oberon last week. Photo: NICK McGRATH

KICKING ON: After starring in his side's opener against Blayney, Willie Heta is hoping Hawks can bounce back after a tough loss against Oberon last week. Photo: NICK McGRATH

Wrecking-ball Sione Tongia has been shifted from prop to his preferred position of centre, meaning the rampaging outside back will give either Lee Hicks or Nathan Orr, whichever Mudgee centre he lines up against, nightmares. 

Jedd Kennedy has been shifted to fullback while Group 10 representative Ethan McKellar returns, in perhaps the biggest inclusion for Heta.

McKellar, and the naming of veteran bookend Arty Shead – the former French international hasn’t donned two blues colours since 2014 – gives Heta’s outfit plenty of punch, forward power needed against the Dragons.

Mudgee is, however, without star off-season signing Corin Smith, powerhouse lock Jack Afamasaga, Dave Scott medallist Hamish Bryant and crafty hooker Ben Thompson.

A win would give Hawks plenty of confidence, some of which was lost thanks to a 48-18 thrashing at the hands of Oberon last round.

“All we can do is control what we know, and that’s our defence and attack,” Heta said.

“I don’t know a lot about our opposition, so if we look after ourselves I’m confident we’ve got the side to do well.”

Kick-off is at 2.40pm. The league tag girls kick-off the day at 11am.

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