IT was supposed to be just a bit of a runaround in third grade.
But it turned out to be far more than the odd game here and there and now, after pulling the boots out of the cupboard, Narrabri breakaway Tim O’Brien finds himself playing for a grand final berth.
The Blue Boars are on the cusp of making the decider for the first time since 2009 and will tackle Pirates tomorrow for a crack at Moree next week and the premiership.
O’Brien has been a big part of their revival this season. Along with captain Matt Schwager and league star Brenton Cochrane, he’s been one of their key additions.
Hardly surprising with the resume he boasts – NSW Country, Australian U21s and Australian Sevens.
He spent two years playing on the sevens circuit.
“I got to travel around the world,” O’Brien said.
“We went to every continent.”
His last season before this was 2008.
That was with Walgett.
“I live 40km east of Walgett,” he said.
Last year he was one of the captains for the Full Boar Rugby Sevens tournament the Blue Boars ran.
He was then coaxed to have a run in third grade.
“I’d been playing a few games for third grade and I came in for second grade.
“They were apparently short,” O’Brien said.
It turned out they had enough players but Blue Boars president Jack Findley asked him to sit on the bench for first grade.
The rest as they say is history.
“I played 20 minutes and it went from there,” O’Brien said.
His first full game was against Pirates in the first round and he’s been getting better and better each week.
Against Moree three weeks ago he was outstanding and he had a pretty big minor semi-final two weeks ago.
“The last two or three weeks I’ve started to get around the park a lot better,” he said.
He said the season has definitely rekindled his rugby passion.
Not that it was really gone. The hankering to play was still there. It was more of a time thing.
“I was busy with work and kids,” O’Brien said.
This year he found himself with a bit more time on his hands and, recognising that he might not have that many more seasons left, decided to give it a go with the Blue Boars.
They are seeming to be hitting form at the right time of the season.
“We played well against Walcha.
“We built that into Moree and lifted another level here today,” O’Brien said after the semi-final win over Scone.
They’ll have to lift again tomorrow.
O’Brien has a bit of experience playing finals.
“I won a premiership in 2007 with Walgett,” he said.
“In 2008 we finished minor premiers but lost in the semi-final.”
To add insult to injury, he broke his hand in that game and didn’t play for them again.
The Blue Boars have made just one change to the side that beat the Brumbies, with Luke Findley returning at hooker.
He missed the game against the Brumbies after receiving a head knock the week before.