In a long and near-perfect season for Wagga Tigers it was, ironically, a weekend off watching rugby league that provided Lahn Shepherd with a final lift of inspiration.
The 24-year old watched his younger brother Jordan, a backrower with Southcity, enjoy Group Nine glory. The memorable comeback win over Gundagai proved the perfect motivation.
“Oh yeah, it definitely did, seeing him do it,” Lahn said.
“I remember I got home and said to my housemate, ‘I can’t wait for next week now, I’ve got to win one’. It pumps you up a bit.”
Seven days later, Jordan was on the hill at Robertson Oval as Tigers ground out a four-point win in atrocious conditions. Not even Leeton-Whitton’s late comeback worried him.
“I was always confident for some reason, I just had this feeling that they weren’t going to lose,” Jordan said.
“He done well. I saw him take two one-handed marks right in front of us so, in the conditions, it was a pretty good effort.”
Jordan took particular enjoyment in Tigers’ win, having played for the club as a junior.
Lahn had played junior league too and the pair played both sports together at school, representing Mater Dei in Carroll Cup Australian rules and Hardy Shield league campaigns.
But when sport got serious, they took different paths. Jordan says Lahn copped too many head knocks in rugby league while Lahn believes his little brother chose the right code for his physique.
“Yeah, probably suits him and suits his bigger size,” Lahn said.
As often as possible, he’s headed to Harris Park to watch the young lock forge out a first grade career. He couldn’t have been happier with this year’s result, particularly after Jordan played in the Bulls’ devastating grand final loss to Albury in his first year at the club.
“Southcity’s was a good win, especially since they come back from 14-nil down,” Lahn said. “I think they would’ve been worrying a bit about what happened two years ago but they kept their heads pretty cool and got through it. And Jordan’s game was good.”
Jordan said it’s one of the hardest games he’s played in but puts Southcity’s success down to a tight-knit team.
And, like Tigers under Shaun Campbell, they were led from the front by a young coach in Nick Skinner.
The wins saw them reflect on the importance to family.
“They loved it, especially Pop (Bill Webb),” Jordan said.
“He’s from Tumut. I’d have to say he’s more of a rugby league supporter but he still was very happy with Tigers.”
Having his grandfather on the ground at full-time was something special for Lahn.
Capping a big few weeks, Lahn’s girlfriend, Kayla Davey, also played in Tigers’ netball success. And the boys’ uncle, Dave Walsh, coached his Young leaguetag team to a grand final win.