On the move: Mid-West shift confirmed as St Pat's snap up Tigers trio

COUP: Tigers Blake Fitzpatrick, Jackson Brien and Abel Lefaoseu have been signed by St Pat's for the 2020 Group 10 premier league season. It comes as Oberon's shift to the Mid-Western New Era Cup was given the green light.
COUP: Tigers Blake Fitzpatrick, Jackson Brien and Abel Lefaoseu have been signed by St Pat's for the 2020 Group 10 premier league season. It comes as Oberon's shift to the Mid-Western New Era Cup was given the green light.

THE Mid-Western New Era Cup committee has confirmed the Oberon Tigers' nomination for a men's open side and a ladies' league tag side has been successful as plans continue for the 2020 season.

It comes after a tumultuous period for Oberon after the club was forced to pull out of Group 10 premier league due to a lack of playing numbers and as some Tigers have been snapped up to play elsewhere.

Tigers Abel Lefaoseu, Jackson Brien and Blake Fitzpatrick were signed by St Pat's Group 10 premier league side just last week in what is being seen as a big boost to the Saints' finals ambitions.

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Oberon Tigers secretary Neil O'Grady said the confirmation from the Mid-Western New Era Cup that the Tigers will be part of the competition was a positive for the club and the town.

"Despite all that was written about the dark clouds hanging over the Tigers of late, and the 'fall from grace' from Group 10, many see this as the silver lining that will inject a new level of enthusiasm from the town-folk to support a truly local team," he said.

"Club stalwart Dallas Booth has worked tirelessly behind the scenes, and has secured an impressive list of local names that are committed to the Tigers for 2020."

Booth said a very good team had already been assembled "and every day we are getting locals contacting us wanting to come on-board".

Booth, who captain-coached Portland Colts last season to finish second on the ladder, says he is confident the Tigers' squad is capable of going all the way in the 2020 competition, despite the fact that there will be strong opposition from the likes of Bathurst CSU.

"There is a genuine groundswell of excitement and anticipation building in the town for a number of reasons," O'Grady said.

"Firstly, the local players are coming back to the club. Secondly, games will be played on a Saturday afternoon and, more importantly, results will be decided on the field and not influenced by the size of a club's cheque book."

At this stage there are eight clubs confirmed for the Mid-Western competition, pending Shamrocks' appeal to the Group 10 board for inclusion, which could potentially see that number increase to nine.

A number of new clubs have been admitted, including Orange Sports Club, Blackheath and Kandos.

"Over the coming weeks the Tigers are inviting anyone who is interested in filling the position of league tag coach and/or manager, or simply volunteering as either a committee member or sponsor," O'Grady said.

"If you are keen to get behind the 'new look local' Tigers, please contact either Dallas Booth, 0417 020 036, Ian Christie-Johnston, 0427 465 933, or myself, 0400 137 228."

Location, location

ST Pat's president Graham Ward says the club's new acquisitions - the Oberon Tigers' Abel Lefaoseu, Jackson Brien and Blake Fitzpatrick - wanted to move to a new club as a collective.

"Location was a big thing," he said.

"It's only half an hour away, and we've adopted the rule this year that if you can't train then you can't play.

"We've had travellers for the last few years and it makes it hard on the local guys when those travelling players aren't turning up to training.

"Zac Merritt as a captain-coach was a big attraction for them. They all realise what a great, solid player he is and as a coach we're hopeful he'll be the same.

"He's highly respected on and off the field."

Brien, the first of the three players to put pen to paper for the Saints, is expected to play a big role for St Pat's.

"He's a class above. He's been such a loyal player for Oberon and he's a Western Rams representative. If Oberon were still in the comp, I'm sure he would have stayed there next year," Ward said.