Sam Warner had no aspiration to lead Orange CYMS’ under-18 side this season, admitting the captaincy was “the last thing” on his mind heading into the green and golds’ Group 10 title defence this year.
He’s flourished in the leadership role though and now the young hooker’s over the moon he has the rare chance to, potentially, be a premiership-winning skipper come Sunday night.
“I wasn’t expecting the captaincy at all, it’s been good though. Personally it’d mean a lot to win one as a captain, especially in my last year of under 18s, but I don’t want to look too far ahead,” Warner said.
Warner is one of a plethora players returning from last year’s title win, including player of the final Tyrone Harrison. While it’s a chance for them to go back-to-back, it’s also a chance for Warner, Harrison and a handful of others in the side to win a third straight title.
“We’ve won two from two, under 16s (in 2016) then 18s last year as well,” Warner beamed.
“It’d be massive to win another one, it’d mean a lot for all of us.”
Western half Josh Board is among that first group, that played in last year’s win, and he’s been cleared to play after being knocked out in his side’s major semi-final loss to Panthers, then missing last week’s preliminary final win over Blayney.
“I’m all good, 100 per cent now,” Board confirmed on Wednesday night, with Pat Williams capably standing in at halfback last weekend.
“I would’ve loved to have played last week but obviously I wasn’t allowed to, safety first. There wasn’t any real worries I’d miss this one, the week off’s done me good though.
“Pat did a great job last weekend, he goes really well, especially stepping up from under 16s this year.
“Hopefully I can just add a bit there in the talk, the structure and tighten everything up.
“A win would mean a lot, it’d be crazy really.”
To get that win means taking down the rampant Panthers though, a side that’s lost just one game this season.
That loss came at CYMS’ hands though, in round six, which gives the green and golds confidence.
“They’re just a good side, a big side too. They’re tough to come up against really, they’re just quality,” Warner said.
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“Defensively it’s really important to match them, or get over them in the middle. Tyrone (Harrison) will be important there, and Liam (Kennedy) as well, who’s just a workhorse.”
“Points will come, they always do, we just need to stay in the grind, defend well and stay disciplined I think,” Board agreed.
Warner and Board’s side are CYMS’ lone hope for a premiership this year, and they also happen to be Mick Sullivan’s last chance to finish at the club with some silverware.
He took the side’s reins from brother Scott this season and Board said the fact it’s his last game involved with the club isn’t lost on the side.
“There’s always pressure in a big game but it’s not coming from being the last CYMS side (alive),” Board said.
“It’s more pressure we put on ourselves I guess, because we’d really like to win it for Mick.
“Being his last year at CYMS, he’s done so much for us and a lot for me personally, so we’d like to get him a win to finish with.”
Sunday’s grand final kicks off at 11.30am at Cowra’s Sid Kallas Oval.
- ORANGE CYMS: 1 Jett Clarke, 2 Trent Maguire, 3 Rhys Draper, 4 Jordan Price, 5 Trent Johnson, 6 Pat Robbins, 7 Josh Board, 8 Aiden Kelso, 9 Sam Warner ©, 10 Will Cusack, 11 Mitch Collins, 12 Tyrone Harrison, 13 Liam Kennedy; Bench: 14 Pat Williams, 15 Preston Simpson, 16 Jock Medway, 17 Eugene Ramos, 18 Cooper Monk, 19 Ryan Banks, 20 Nathan Swain, 21 Josh Piper, 22 Tarik Sullivan, 23 Craig Simpson