Luke Petrie appears to be the front-runner to wear Orange CYMS’ now-vacant No.7 jersey in the opening round of the 2019 Group 10 premier league season, having impressed new coach Dom Maley in the early stages of the green and golds’ preparation.
Petrie has been in and among the club’s premier league group for some time now but with Mick Sullivan at halfback he was always somewhat of a co-pilot for the former NRL star, playing a supporting role of sorts from five-eighth.
While he’ll have plenty of options in the halves in new signings Steve Morris and Jake Williams, when speaking with Australian Community Media’s Get ‘Em Onside Podcast last week Maley did say he’d love to see Petrie stand up and make the halfback role his own.
He said the young pivot seems like he’s keen to do so as well after a big start to the pre-season, although Maley did make it very clear every spot is still up for grabs too.
“We’ll have a few options in the halves ... the best 13 will play (round one) so we’ll establish that at training and in the trials but potentially, yes,” he said, when asked if Petrie could move to halfback.
“Before Christmas we did a few optional fitness sessions and [Petrie seems] pretty keen for a big year.
“He was arguably Sully’s understudy for the last couple of years and I think he’s pretty keen to take a bit of a leadership role in his absence.
I think he’s pretty keen to take a bit of a leadership role in [Mick Sullivan's] absence.Dom Maley, on Luke Petrie
“Seven and six, with the structure we’ve played the last few years and will continue with through this year, they're similar positions on the edge so it’d be much of a muchness for Peckers.
“Hopefully he sees it that way too.”
Regardless of who takes the field Maley is under no illusions as to how important early victories will be for his side, considering the nightmare early-season draw they’ve been handed – although it’s largely because Wade Park is unavailable for the opening portion of 2019.
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The green and golds travel to Bathurst to face St Pat’s in round one and will be on the road for three more of their first five games, not playing in Orange until round four.
That will give them an enviable run of home games leading into the finals, but it makes the opening weeks so much more important considering Maley wants to bounce back from last year’s straight-sets finals exit.
“Realistically you’re probably not going to go through a season undefeated … we’ll go into every game hoping to win,” Maley said.
“Having a handful of wins (early) and not dropping many would be good and getting off to a good start and winning the first game would be ideal but we’re certainly going to take every game as it comes and (be) aiming to win all of them.
“I reckon coming fourth (last year) was a bit of an underachievement … but in saying that Group 10’s really strong, there were six really strong sides last year and one of those in St Pat’s didn’t even make the finals.
“I’m expecting a tough competition again, nothing’s a given.”
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