Central North Rugby: Cordingley at the top of his game

Making a break: In what has been a common sight this season, Walcha outside centre Ed Cordingley breaks away to score against Gunnedah.
Making a break: In what has been a common sight this season, Walcha outside centre Ed Cordingley breaks away to score against Gunnedah.

He doesn’t always earn the plaudits that his backline cohorts do, but Ed Cordingley has been just as integral in Walcha reaching their first Central North grand final since 2012.

The outside centre is in many opinions enjoying his best season in a Rams jersey.

Cordingley agrees, although was quick to deflect the praise.

“The biggest credit of it is our fitness man, who has drummed it into us pretty well,” he said.

“That’s made a big difference to everyone.”

Modestly the 25-year old also laid a lot of the credit with his team-mates.

“I’ve been lucky to be at the end of everyone’s good work,” he said.

He said it is “a lot of fun” playing in the Rams backline and alongside the likes of Simon Newton and Pat Keen, who Cordingley described as “pretty exceptional players”.

Teaming up with Keen in the centres this season, he said the Guyra-native has “just slotted in perfectly”.

“He’s been a great asset on and off the field,” he said.

The baby at the team back in 2012, Cordingley is one of several of the current Rams that played that day.

“It was obviously pretty heart-breaking,” he recalled of the four point loss.

Playing in their first grand final for 15 years, they led Pirates until the 73rd minute.

“We probably had a better forward pack compared to our backline that year,” Cordingley reflected.

Led by best and fairest that year Lachlan Brown at number eight, they were a real powerhouse.

The weight has shifted a bit, with the backline these days considered the Rams’ strength, and widely-regarded as the best in the competition.

Cordingley has been central to that, his straight running proving a perfect foil to the elusiveness and speed of the outside backs.

He said everyone is excited about Saturday, recognising that grand finals don’t come along every day, and looking forward to facing Pirates again. The last two games there has been four and six points between them.

“There’s a real hunger,” Cordingley said.

“They’ve obviously been tough and close games and on a knife’s-edge.

“We’re excited to have another crack at them.”

He said what happened five years ago has added that bit of extra spice too.

“You always want to beat the best team. There’s no doubt they are the team to beat,” he said.

The Rams are confident they can.

“It pretty much comes down to when we get the ball in their area making sure we hang onto it,” Cordingley said.

“We know we can make things happen if we get an opportunity with the ball.”

They also can’t give Pirates opportunities in their area.

A lot will rest on the forwards. Not only in respect of containing Pirates’ forwards but setting the platform to allow the backs to work their magic.

Cordingley has faith they can.

“Our forwards have been outweighed significantly but they’ve got a lot of heart,” he said.