By BRAD GREENSHIELDS
EVERY team has one of these players.
The player who rolls his sleeves up to put in the big effort for the team - not for the glory or the pats on the back but simply because it helps out the team.
Each week Orara Valley lock Paul Tomlinson can be counted on to make 30 to 35 tackles in defence while the attacking options of the McCarthy brothers, Brett Davis and Matt Donovan receive the accolades for scoring or creating tries.
You'll never hear Tomlinson complain though.
So long as Orara get the two points at the end of the game he's happy.
"I just try to do as much work as I can just to lighten the load for the rest of the team," he said.
"The whole back row is like that with Brant O'Dea and Allan Jones always putting in all the time."
Tomlinson and his back row mates certainly need to be on their game tomorrow as they come up against the most dangerous attacking team in the competition in this weekend's match of the round and possibly a grand final preview.
Macksville are capable of scoring a try from almost any position and Tomlinson says the Axemen have been preparing hard all week to cut down the many scoring options the Sea Eagles have.
"We've been doing a lot of defensive drills this week," Tomlinson explained.
"Just things like hitting the pad and wrapping up the ball carrier.
"We've also worked on our scrambling defence a lot."
Since these teams last met, Macksville have won six of their seven matches and are sitting in third place on the table chasing a home final in the first week of this season's semi's.
Good form indeed and the Orara boys know that they're in for a challenge tomorrow.
"They're coming up a long way and really starting to hit their straps," the lock said.
"There'll be a bit of pressure on but I think we'll be up to it."
Although the Axemen are in for a big challenge, Tomlinson is confident the team will get the two points but there's no secret weapon to unveil that can catch Macksville coach Paul Davis unaware.
His confidence comes from the fitness levels the team has this season.
"The fitness this year is unbelievable with the work we've been doing with Darren Leaney and Matt Donovan.
"As a team we've really tried to get together and put the hard yards in."
This Orara and Macksville fixture has brought back memories for a lot of Group 2 supporters of the epic 2003 Grand Final that took place at Coramba Sportsground just like tomorrow's match.
On that occasion, Macksville came from behind to win 30-23 in front of a packed house.
Tomlinson was one of the gladiators that took the field during that memorable match and still feels the disappointment from it.
"It was a huge disappointment," he recalled.
"There's nothing like getting to a grand final and then to have it in your grasp and let it slip away was very disappointing."
If supporters have been remembering that magnificent day, has it been brought up in the Axemen camp at all during the week?
"Not really because we're pretty much a new team," was Tomlinson's reply.
"There's only about five of us from that match playing this week.
"We're just trying not to lose heaps before the semi's so we can keep that winning feeling up."