KAIDYN Saunders turned up at Kootingal training at the start of the season and told captain coach Nathan Hamlin that he was a fullback.
Hamlin told him he was a lock and the two have never looked back as the Roosters’ undefeated season continued under tough circumstances.
Saunders kept a clear head when others didn’t to score the first and last try in one of the most brutal games played this season as the Roosters downed Dungowan 24-20.
When Saunders strode over for his first try, he was playing in a fairly composed Roosters side defending with good structure and applying pressure through the forwards.
An hour later the lanky lock would be one of only eight Roosters left on the park scrambling to hold the line without either half, hooker, or fullback on the field.
A niggly and tough affair erupted in the second half on several occasions, the biggest seeing three from each side simultaneously binned.
Saunders’ fitness and former position came into play as he helped Hamlin organise a defence.
“It was almost like playing seven a side,” Saunders said.
“I think we defended really well in the first half but lost it a little bit.”
Dungowan scored two quick tries, the second an eight-point try to take the lead 20-18 and bring the crowd to its feet.
The Cowboys’ lead didn’t last long, with a good set and even better try seeing Saunders hit the deck, bounce up again unheld, and keep going to score the last.
To top it off, Saunders soared above the pack to defuse a big bomb in the Cowboys’ final attacking raid of the match.
“We have got a saying at the club to keep turning up for each other,” Hamlin said.
“Kaido (Saunders) never stops running and keeps turning up.”
“That’s how we won out there – we kept turning up and kept turning up.”
The victory all but handed the Roosters the minor premiership, and also set up a potentially huge last round showdown between Dungowan and Barraba at Barraba for second place.
“I can’t wait for the next big games,” Saunders said.
“I can always pick myself up a little and step it up against the big teams.”