WHEN Steve Lamont’s younger brother, Tom, left for boarding school in year 9 he was too small to butt heads with his older sibling on the rugby field.
By the time Tom graduated from St Joseph’s College, Hunters Hill, as an Australian Schoolboy in 2009, he was too big.
The Lamont boys, who grew up on the Central Coast, will pack down together in a competitive game for the first time when Newcastle chase a sixth straight Caldwell Cup at the Country Championships in Tamworth this weekend.
Steve, 26, is hooker and captain.
Tom, who has moved to Newcastle after playing first grade for Norths last season, will start on the bench and can play anywhere across the front row.
‘‘The trial against Manly was the first time we have been in the same team,’’ Steve said.
‘‘It was a bit strange. He tried telling me what to do.’’
Steve is five years the senior. They kicked a ball around in the backyard as kids but didn’t get physical.
‘‘When he was big enough to play against me, he went to Joeys,’’ Steve said.
‘‘When he came back he was bigger than me and I said no thanks.’’
Both will be integral to Newcastle’s campaign, which starts with a must-win game against Central North on Saturday.
Steve will pack down between Hamilton clubmate Pete Bakarich and Welshman Bleddyn Gant.
Tom will be the first front-rower off the bench, and with clubs allowed 12 interchanges he is sure to get plenty of game time.
‘‘Tom is only 21 but technically he is very strong and his versatility is a real bonus,’’ Steve said
Newcastle coach Dan Beckett has been equally impressed by both.
‘‘It is great to have someone like Tom who has had that grounding,’’ Beckett said.
‘‘He brings that professionalism in everything he does when he is on the field... .
‘‘Steve is enjoying having Tom there and is definitely pushing him. It has really added to the group.
‘‘They are both good characters and, more importantly, exceptional players.’’
Steve is in his third season with Newcastle, the first as skipper. He represented NSW Country last year and has his sights set on the Combined NSW/ Queensland Country team to play the British Lions in June.
But first is the Caldwell Cup.
‘‘The better we play, the more we win; it promotes everyone’s chances,’’ Lamont said.
‘‘We have lost a few players from last year, but we still have the stock. The depth of Newcastle is outstanding compared to the country areas.’’
Waratahs back-rower Dylan Heins and Maitland utility back Jono O’Toole have been called in for injured Nick Palmer (shoulder) and Mick Delore (hamstring).