Dan Sadler’s shoulders on game day are something to behold.
Bound in kilometres of tape, it’s hard to tell what’s muscle and what’s strapping even when he’s backing into a pack centimetres from your eyes.
Anyone who has played in the Tigers’ backline – especially in season 2018 – has had Sadler back into a pack they’re in, with a front-row ticket to an intercept mark that didn’t seem possible until it happened.
Several times this season Sadler has held the Orange Tigers’ defence on his shoulders with his intercepting, talk, and courage.
He hasn’t been alone, part of what has made the Tigers so fearsome in 2018 is that defensive line, one that has the kind of players who can lift the others scattered through it – think the likes of Jaxon Mumme, Luke Thorley and Ben McKenna.
This Saturday Sadler will use his last several rolls of tape from the Tigers’ rooms before he moves away, marking his final game in the yellow and black.
“It’s been a big week for me this week …. before I move up to Newcastle, it was a surprise to me about four weeks ago to find that out, so I’m hoping for the win,” he said.
Aside from a four-year stint in Newcastle at university the 30-year-old backman has played for the Tigers since he was 14, notching up 63 games.
Player-coach Dale Hunter said Sadler will be “sorely missed” at the end of the year, and this year had worked to get his body right to allow him to play all over the ground – including kicking a few goals in the unusual habitat of the forward line.
He’s played four grand finals with the side, but is still expecting the nerves to kick in on Saturday morning.
“It’d be a great present to come away with a win and we’ve had a good year this year, I’ve had a lot of fun,” Sadler said.
He’s anticipating an intense clash on the weekend for his final game, with the Tigers’ defence needing to pull every trick in the book to keep the Bathurst Bushrangers Rebels’ forwards at bay.
Despite Sadler’s stints in the midfield this season, he’s expecting to spend all game down back.
“The Bushrangers have always been hard to come up against them with some really good forwards with Matty Archer and Bill Watterson, it’ll be exciting playing them again, we can’t underestimate them,” he said.
“I’m always a backman, I like to help out in the midfield but my heart’s in the backline, always has been.
“I wanted to make a choice this year to get fit and get the body right and I’ve been fortunate that Croc’s (Hunter) let me run through the mids, but I love the backline.”
With four grand finals in a period of success, Sadler has plenty of highlights to pick from, but it’s a grand final he didn’t play in which stands above the plethora of memories from his decade at the club.
“The 2013 grand final, I busted my shoulder the week before and couldn’t play and we were the underdogs then but just being able to help out and watching the boys’ faces when we won that, and then to end up going three in a row, that was massive,” he said.
“2015 was a good year on the paddock, really enjoyed that one but I’ve really liked this year, I think our backline’s been strong and I’ve enjoyed my time at the Tigers but it’s time to move on, maybe to bigger and better things.”
Sadler’s accepted a work transfer, but also says the time is right for him to “spread his wings” and move on – provided the wings are taped up, of course.
“I do go through a good strap of tape,” he laughs.
“The body’s holding up well. I had a slight roll of the ankle last week but Louie the physio is all over that and I’ll be fit and ready to go on Saturday, nothing will stop me from playing.”
First bounce in Saturday’s grand final is at 2.30pm, at Bathurst’s George Park.