IT may look like fun and games now but it will be far from it come 3pm Saturday.
The Hastings Valley Vikings and the Port Macquarie Pirates will renew their long, bitter rivalry when they play each other for the first time in their 2014 campaigns.
The games are often spiteful and vicious as both teams battle for Port Macquarie supremacy and the bragging rights that come with the win.
As far as cross-towns rivalries go, there is none bigger.
The Vikings will be smarting from the last time the two sides met in the 2013 grand final when the Pirates won the title in the dying minutes of the game.
It will also be the Vikings first match of the year after opening the season with the bye.
Coach Andrew Kable said his team wouldn’t be focusing on the hype that comes with the much anticipated local derby.
“I don’t buy into it although I acknowledge it’s good for the rugby community,” he said.
“Don’t get me wrong, the players want the bragging rights but we don’t want that to be our main focus,” he said.
“Our focus this year will be on winning every home game, it’s a shortened round this year so we want to make sure we get the points when they’re on offer.”
Pirates coach Staff Hurleston, said he also didn’t want to buy into any pre game banter and said it was just another game, although he conceded bragging rights was on the line.
“I think the blokes from both teams are pretty good mates off the pitch,” he said. “It’s good to have rivalry on the pitch but it’s just another game.”
He said the Pirates were ready for the home town clash and had been preparing well but he said he was always cautious of the Vikings.
“They’ve trained really well this week, you can see it they want to win,” he said. “But we certainly respect the Vikings they’re a good side they’re like pitbulls, even if they’re losing they never give up, they never take a backward step.
“Some sides throw the towel in if you’re beating them but not the Vikings, they never give up, I certainly respect them and the way they play.”
As a bonus to the Vikings rugby club playmaker Adam McCormack has been selected for the second year in a row to represent the Country Cockatoos.
He will be available for the all important clash this weekend but will be forced to miss at least the following three games for the Vikings.
While Kable said he was excited for McCormack he admitted his absence would be hard to cover.
“It’s exciting for Adam, he’s a great footballer and a good organiser on the field I don’t mind losing players to representative duties but it will be a hard hole to fill.”