A NEW era has dawned at Orange Emus.
Seven new faces will make their run on debuts for the Greens against competition heavyweights Bathurst Bulldogs in the club’s first ever Blowes Clothing Cup game under lights at Endeavour Oval.
Prop Brandon Akerston, lock Scott McLean, blindside flanker Michael McGee, fly half Nigel Staniforth, fullback Graydon Staniforth and winger Derek Thompson make up the new faces, while Nick Mullins makes the step up from second grade on the open side of the scrum.
Inside centre Andrew Swain will also begin his first year as Emus’ captain.
It’s a new generation of Emus.
And it’s one the Staniforth brothers can’t wait to be part of.
Their brother Mitchell has had a long association both as a player and a coach with Emus and both Nigel and Graydon are positive about their side’s chances against the Bulldogs under lights at Endeavour Oval in round one.
“We’ve got a young, small side. Our forward pack is very mobile but on the smaller side and our backs, I think they’re pretty fast and quite young, except for myself and even Nigel,” Graydon laughed.
Nigel added: “We balance (the average age) out.”
Returning to Orange after playing the last five seasons of rugby in France, Graydon, 38, is a key addition at the back for Emus.
Nigel, too, is a big boost.
The 30-year-old has played first grade footy with Sydney University as well as in New Zealand, France and just last year in Japan.
He was also part of the Western Force Academy.
Nigel said having his brother Mitchell around the Emus club in the past made the decision to don the green in 2012 an easy one.
“We didn’t have much choice where we were going to play,” Nigel said with a smile.
And he is hoping to hit the ground running against Bathurst.
“The Bulldogs, I went to school at All Saints in Bathurst and most of the Bulldogs guys used to be Stannies guys so it should be good fun, especially under lights. I’m looking forward to the new team and a bit of country footy,” Nigel said.
Emus coach Paul Ringland said the backline duo will add plenty to a vastly different attack to the one that led the Emus to 11 straight Blowes Clothing Cup wins in 2011.
“They just have a huge amount of experience given the level of rugby they’ve played,” Ringland said.
“Me and Scotty, we’re probably more forwards coaches and to have that experience out in the backline is invaluable.”
Emus take on the Bulldogs from 6.45pm at Endeavour Oval tomorrow night.
Colts kick off at 3pm.
ORANGE EMUS: 1 Brandon Akerston, 2 Tom Goolagong, 3 Jim Roberts, 4 Ben Parkes, 5 Scott McLean, 6 Michael McGee, 7 Nick Mullins, 8 Keith Howarth, 9 TJ Cunynghame, 10 Nigel Staniforth, 11 Derek Thompson, 12 Andrew Swain, 13 Isaac White, 14 Toby Wright, 15 Graydon Staniforth