Tom Nell's been part of the furniture at Pride Park for the best part of a decade, but 2021 will usher in a new era at Orange City.
The long-time Lions halfback has moved to Newcastle with girlfriend Grace Mooney and will play his rugby with the Merewether Carlton Greens next season in the Hunter competition.
Nell has run out for City over 100 times in the top grade and played in two Blowes Clothing Cup grand finals - 2015 and 2020 - following in the footsteps of father Steve, a club legend.
Both deciders the Lions lost to rivals Orange Emus but Nell has little doubt head coach Viv Paasi can "work his magic" ahead of the 2021 Central West Rugby Union season.
"He works hard behind the scenes," Nell said.
"I've got full faith that Viv will work his magic and especially with the boost of winning a few games last year.
"It might bring old players out of the woodwork to come and play again."
Nell moved to Orange at the age of 10 and completed his high schooling at Saint Stanislaus at Bathurst, a strong rugby nursery in the region.
The club, it's a massive part of my life and also my family's.Tom Nell on Orange City Rugby Club
The 26-year-old has been living in Orange since graduating high school but has long had an itch to move abroad.
The one thing holding him back?
"The club, it's a massive part of my life and also my family's," Nell said.
"I was always wanted to move at some stage while I was young enough to play footy and join a new club. I've met a partner who was keen to move with me and we both just said 'screw it, let's move'.
"But one of the hardest things I'll do is leave (City). I know if I don't like it up here (in Newcastle) I'll always be welcome back at Orange City."
Nell started training with the Greens this week and said the standard of the Newcastle competition, one that now feeds directly into Shute Shield side the Wildfires, will be a great challenge.
"It's a good standard up here," he added.
Nell anointed tough-as-nails half Harry Taberner as his likely successor in the No.9 jumper at City, but said West brothers, Tom and Harry, would likely be knocking on the door for first grade selection ahead of the 2021 season.
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