WHEN the two clubs which have shared the spoils of the last seven Lower Mid North Coast rugby union premierships lock horns in July, Forster Tuncurry Dolphins will come face to face with two Wallamba Bulls forwards who have become allies of their adversaries.
Thomas Homer is a former captain of the Dolphins and 2016 co-winner of the Bruce Greensill Medal with brilliant five-eighth, Matt Nuku.
Homer won the Greensill Medal again in 2017 as the club's best and fairest player, simply the finest breakaway of the competition, while the strong-tackling, black- bearded Scott Walmsley was last season's hooker in the Dolphins' unbeaten premiership year.
Homer's history is fascinating. A nomadic Welsh rugby player who put down his roots and settled in Forster's Great Lakes, who married and built his own home, he was an instant success with the Dolphins, an inspirational captain, tireless hunter of the ball and punishing defender.
But in May of 2018, Homer reported in with a badly gashed hand. Having turned to timber cutting as his profession, he had the misfortune to cut his left hand with a chainsaw, not severely, but badly enough to suggest he would miss two or three games.
"Chainsaws are designed to tear, but I have not severed any tendons or fingers. It made a bit of a mess of my fingers though," he said.
He missed a month of rugby and did not turn up for the Dolphins' games or training sessions. He did not return calls and eventually was not sighted for the rest of the season.
Time passed and he did not return and it was assumed "Chainsaw Tom" had retired. Then, early this year, before coronavirus paralysed the nation, the Wallamba Bulls conducted a splendid triangular pre-season carnival and there in the Bulls' pack were the familiar faces of Homer and Walmsley.
Homer has not appeared fitter or enjoyed his rugby more. Walmsley has never been one of the more industrious trainers, but perhaps with a new club, he will turn over a new leaf.
Coach Peter White has the makings of a fine team and they will take some stopping this winter.