The spine is one of the most talked about phrases in the rugby league world nowadays.
Those players wearing the one, six, seven and nine jerseys – guiding a team around the park and providing the point of most attacking raids.
On Saturday that very combination, led by former NRL rake Terence Seu Seu, proved to be the difference for a new-look Kurri Kurri Bulldogs.
After starting the Newcastle Rugby League season 0-3 the Bulldogs snapped their losing streak with an emphatic 40-4 win over Coalfields neighbours Maitland.
Behind the display was a slightly different formation, which produced immediate results for Kurri coach Ron Griffiths.
“Our 6, 7, 9 and 1 worked really well together,” Griffiths said.
“It’s the first time we’ve had that combination there and it paid dividends the first weekend. Without the middle guys laying the platform that doesn’t work, but there’s a fair bit of flair there.
“And having Terence [Seu Seu] there, he just understands the right time to play a little bit of footy and the right time to rein it in a little bit.”
Seu Seu shifted from the halves and returned to his familiar role of hooker while the Walsh brothers, Ryan at five-eighth and Tyrone on debut at halfback, played together for the first time donning the tri-colours. Jarom Haines then slotted into fullback for his maiden run as custodian.
“It’s paid off and it’s very exciting to play alongside those young kids,” Seu Seu said.
“It only felt like yesterday when I was their age running around.”
And it’s not the first time the 29-year-old has lined up with a Walsh during his career.
Seu Seu stood next to Ryan and Tyrone’s older brother Luke when, a decade ago, they debuted for the Newcastle Knights in the same 2007 season.
Now, in his third campaign at Kurri after shorter stints at both Cessnock and Maitland, the three-time Samoan representative has taken on more responsibility at the club in terms of leadership.
“I feel like a leader in that team and they look to me for answers,” Seu Seu said.
“Sometimes I don’t have them, but my actions need to find them. It’s a tough role to play in any team, but I sat down with Ronny [Griffiths] and told him that’s what I want to be and it’s a new part of my game I’m trying to work through.”
Despite shift work in the mines and being based at Gorokan on the Central Coast, Seu Seu has remained committed to the Bulldogs and earlier this season played first grade alongside younger brother Jonah Lisiua.
“It was really good and was part of the reason why I stayed at Kurri,” he said.