IT worked for the British and Irish Lions. Now Merewether are about to launch their own version of power rugby.
Mark Wade, a 194cm, 107-kilogram wrecking ball, will start at inside centre against Southern Beaches at Cahill Oval today.
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The 2011 Anderson Medal winner and one-time Newcastle Knight has spent the majority of his career in the second row or at No. 8, where he has terrorised defences with his size and speed.
The 23-year-old shares the same dimensions as Lions centre James Roberts and today he will play with the same number on his back.
“It will be different, but I’m used to running wider lines,” Wade said.
“I do not think that much will change. I just won’t be in the scrums and lineouts.”
Many things contributed to Wade’s move to the backline.
The Greens’ inside backs stocks have been stretched through injury and departures.
Coach Stacey Sykes is also keen to play front-foot rugby and unleash his quicksilver back three.
Throw in the form of the Greens’ mobile men in the pack, in particular Ireland brothers Pat and Matt, and it has given Sykes the luxury of experimenting with Wade.
“It came about partly because the Ireland boys are killing it on the side of the scrum,” Wade said. “You can’t really take anyone out who is in that good a form.
“Also, I have always wanted to play in the centres and give it a crack. We are in a position where we can try things.
“It is not a case of that’s where I am going to be forever, but I’d like to learn the skills around that. Any skills I can pick up will improve my overall game.”
Michael Delore has the unenviable task of trying to stop Wade in his tracks.
“Our back row will be floating around, but from set pieces it is man on man,” Delore said.
“I’d say they will be going straight to him, and he will be aiming to go straight over me.
“We will try and get up in their face and cut down the time he has, but I will just have to go low and see how I go.”
Delore himself is adjusting to a new position, having moved out one place from fly-half in Beaches’ 23-20 triumph over The Waratahs.
“I have not played there for a couple of years,” he said.
“I have a bit of work to do in attack and defence, mainly the lines to run, but I’m sure that will come over the next few weeks.”
Wade fractured his cheekbone playing second row for Newcastle at the Country Championships in March.
He returned for the Greens against Nelson Bay last round. Playing at outside centre he scored two tries in second grade and added another off the bench in first grade, slotting in at No.8.
It was little more than a training run as the Greens won twos 104-0 and the top grade 91-0.
“In seconds I don’t think I got tackled and maybe made one. First grade, they were pretty physical. The scoreline did not reflect that,” he said.
“With match fitness, it is just a case of building on it each week.”