Border battle of the codes looms

BORDER bragging rights and cash are on the line when the Riverina’s premier rugby codes clash as a prelude to the Super 15 trial at the Albury Sportsground tomorrow.

Back-to-back Group 9 league premiers Albury Thunder will cobble together a side to be part of the rugby 10s tournament to be played from the middle of the day, ahead of the Waratahs and Melbourne Rebels trial.

On the other side of the draw is last year’s undefeated Southern Riverina rugby union champions the Albury-Wodonga Steamers.

The winner-takes-all purse for the RapidFire Rugby Tens is $1500.

Yesterday players from both codes were playing down the rivalry.

Thunder hardman Tommy Gemmell, who had retired from playing, will pull on the boots tomorrow and draw on his experience as a schoolboy.

“It should be fun, a lot of the boys haven’t played before but I’ve got a bit of experience back in New Zealand,” the Thunder’s reserve grade coach said.

“We had a hitout on Tuesday and had big House (James Kora) from the Steamers giving us some tips on how to control the ruck and I think the boys were a bit surprised at how technical it is, how easy it is to get hurt.

“We are taking it serious and the boys are fit enough, there is no doubt about that.”

Steamers second rower Tom Rowan said they were looking forward to the challenge but not to the expected 40-degree heat.

“We have been training in the heat and there are a lot of new faces, which is great for the club,” he said.

“As everyone knows we have had a lot of retirements and people moving away but the first 10 will be experienced players from last year, after that we will probably experiment to see how the new faces go in game time.

“The professional boys will have ice fans and baths but we will just tough it out.”

The RapidFire Rugby Tens starts from noon with seven minute halves and only brief breaks between games.

The main game starts as 5pm and will be played in four quarters.

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