Nick Davidson made a rare appearance at training on Thursday night.
Approaching grand final eve it was an exception rather than the rule for the Maitland flanker, who works afternoon shifts in a Hunter Valley mine and simply can’t make the weekly sessions at Marcellin Park.
But it’s not just his 2015 Anderson Medal or the club frequent flyer points clocked up by the Blacks junior, that keep him in the first XV.
“It’s the fittest he’s been for years to be honest,” Maitland co-coach Ryan McCormack said.
“[Not training] He misses out on the smaller details around game plans, but outside that he doesn’t skip a beat. Davo does Davo. It doesn’t change the way he plays and he’s been really good for us this year.
“Him, Biz [John Birrell] and Trav [Brooke] really compliment each other [loose forwards].”
Davidson is one of four survivors from the Blacks’ last appearance in the Newcastle and Hunter Rugby Union decider eight years ago against the same Hamilton opponents.
McCormack said Maitland and the Hawks would both be affected if temperatures reach an expected high of 31 degrees Celsius at No.2 Sportsground on Saturday afternoon, but was confident three tough semi-finals in a row wouldn’t be a factor.
“I think the weather will affect both teams because it hasn’t been that hot all year,” McCormack said.
“But we’ve played well in back-to-back games and haven’t done well off the bye this year, so we’re confident we’ve got the match fitness there. It will bring the bench into play.”
Meanwhile, at least 10 Newcastle women’s players have been selected to represent NSW Country in two National Rugby Championship double headers against Sydney within the next month.
Wallaroos and NSW Waratahs halfback Katrina Barker leads the charge alongside University’s Britney Duff, Emma Bradford of Easts and Hamilton’s Nathan sisters Leilane and Nichole.
The fixtures are set for Concord on September 23 and Camden on October 7.