Versatility coming to the fore again as Tigers welcome Demons to the jungle

ROAR POWER: Callan Hunt and his Tigers host Dubbo on Saturday, the side's versatility will be on show again. Photo: CARLA FREEDMAN
ROAR POWER: Callan Hunt and his Tigers host Dubbo on Saturday, the side's versatility will be on show again. Photo: CARLA FREEDMAN

Versatility has been the strength of the Orange Tigers so far in Central West AFL’s 2018 season.

While the side hasn’t been ravaged by injury weekly outs with niggles and work commitments have certainly put a dent in consistency across key roles.

The Tigers have continually overcome that though, doing so in style and rocketing to top spot, they’re now two wins clear of the second-placed Bathurst Bushrangers Rebels.

The ability to forge on, fill gaps and do so with aplomb is testament to that versatility, Tigers midfield Andrew Henry says, which will need to continue in Saturday’s round nine clash with the Dubbo Demons.

“We’ve had a few holes to fill this season as we’ve been a bit shorthanded in key roles but as a team we’ve stepped up pretty well on guys who normally might not be in those positions,” Henry said. 

Henry did that himself last week, stepping up to patrol the middle in the absence of suspended vice-captain Michael Rothnie, although he’s made the midfield his home this season anyway.

The Broken Hill-born Henry never played in the middle during his junior years, ending up in the forward line kicking snags, but on his return to the football field this season after a few years in London he’s found himself at home on the ball with the likes of Rothnie and Mitch McKenna.

“I really worked on my fitness to make sure I could be at the coal face and doing some heavy lifting,” he said. 

Heading into this weekend’s game against the fifth-placed Demons, Henry said he was “reasonably confident” the side could get the job done, although someone will once again need to step up as a replacement, this time for Chris Rothnie, who’s out with a broken hand.

“We’re playing pretty good footy, especially since the loss to Rebels after the bye – we’ve galvanised since then with a big win over Parkes, beating the Giants and then last week,” he said.

Those clashes with the Rebels and then Parkes were the first of the Tigers’ home games in 2018, but Henry says he’s not sure his side’s picked up any sort of advantage from playing at Waratahs Sportsground yet.

“In theory [we’ll get an advantage], but it’s too early to tell,” he said.

“You write off last week due to the conditions and we performed really well against Parkes, but they’ve struggled this year so I don’t know how much you can read into it.”

The Demons have battled so far in 2018, just as they looked likely to make a run for the finals they were stripped of four points.

First bounce in Saturday’s clash at Waratahs is at 2.30pm, following the women’s game.