Temora captain Charlie Vallance came to the Riverina to study, but has stayed for the footy.
And who could blame him?
At 24, Vallance has won three premierships, and is about to captain the Kangaroos in a grand final side chasing a fourth flag in six seasons.
It’s an incredible record but the experience also means Vallance knows not to take anything for granted on the biggest day of the year.
“A big thing with grand final preparation is being able to get the game on your own terms,” Vallance said.
“It can be pretty ugly for the first five minutes or the first quarter but if your team can settle well early, that’ll go a long way to winning the game I think.”
One of the league’s best and most consistent defenders for the past six years, Vallance said Temora’s backline has provided the backbone of their season and he’s expecting another tough contest against Marrar.
“Both teams have great forward lines, I think,” he said.
“Marrar have a very quick forward line in Brad Turner and Rory Block so limiting their ball use, how much room they have to run in, will be a key.
“And then the midfield – they’ve got some good experience as well as some young, quicker guys like Cal Gardner and Jesse Margosis.”
But Vallance said Temora’s own midfielders, Canberra-based trio Stephen Camp, Sam Jensen and Kieran Shea, and ruckman Anthony Atkin, stepped up when it mattered in Temora’s semi-final win over Marrar.
“They’ve been huge for the Temora footy club,” he said.
He has also enjoyed having Daniel Hespe playing down back, which gives Temora plenty of depth and options.
Vallance and key forward Mark Breust are able to swap roles – as they did in the first half of the semi against Marrar.
Vallance said the Roos took plenty of lessons from that win.
“We missed out on plenty of opportunities and you need every one of them in a big game to go our way,” he said.
“We know that it was one quarter of footy that got us over the line. So we're asking for a big performance this week.”
The boy from Lake Bolac, Victoria said he’s been made to feel right at home since the minute he moved to Temora, but stepping up to a senior leadership role does carry extra weight at a club with a culture and expectation of success.
“The first few, I didn’t have any stress,” he said. “I was able to come over and play good footy but still being a bit detached. Now, everywhere you go, people stop you and want to talk to you about the footy.”