MOREE has been buzzing with rugby league fever this week as the local derby re-ignites for the first time in 21 years at Burt Jovanovich Oval tomorrow.
During that time the former Group 5 area dissolved and the Moree Boars started playing Group 4.
The Moree Boomerangs were in the rugby league wilderness for twelve of those years before coming back to the game a few years ago.
This year the Boars made the move to Group 19.
The Rangs won the comp last year for the first time since 1994, a year after the Boars beat Armidale in the final.
That year was the last season the two sides met.
Rangs’ coach Chris Binge said the game had been the talk of the town this week.
“There is definitely a buzz around town and the players are looking forward to it,” Binge said.
“As a coach, it has been an easy week because there is plenty of motivation already there.”
After a big weekend of rep footy and some niggling injuries, the Rangs will be at full strength.
Unfortunately, the Boars will not be, according to vice- president and selector Mick Fernance.
Rep players Joe Henderson, Ben Williams and Matt Marshall are all out with injuries, as are Dave Reading, Jay Kennedy and Beau McMahon.
“It is obviously a bit of a shame and will test our depth,” Fernance said.
Despite not having played each other for over 20 years, Fernance is keeping the same tactics they used to use in local derbies.
“Keep the ball off them and play it straight up the middle.
“Complete your sets and when you kick it, make sure it is out or dead.
“That is the way we have always done it.”
The Boomerangs were hoping to play a full-strength side.
“That is how you want a local derby,” Binge said.
“You don’t want any excuses after the game.
“We won’t have any.”
Despite all the hype, the coach is treating it like any other game.
“The build-up is great for the town and supporters but it is just round seven,” Binge said.
“It doesn’t matter if you win by one, four or 40, you only get two points in the end and that is all we are after.”
A bumper crowd is expected for all four grades, with a grand final-like atmosphere.
For 21 years, supporters of both teams have been comparing and claiming who is the better side while they were in different groups.
Tomorrow, some of those claims will be put to bed.
“I think last weekend was proof enough of who has the stronger competition,” Binge said.
“I think the Boars realise that and have definitely lifted their standard.”
“But on Saturday afternoon someone is walking away with the bragging rights.”
The ladies’ league tag will kick off at 11am, with first grade to start at 2.45pm.
In the other games, leaders Glen Innes will travel to Inverell, Ashford will host Goondiwindi and Tingha will be in Armidale.