THE average punter isn’t all that familiar with what the offensive line does on the gridiron, but if the ‘O-line’ isn’t doing their job, even the layman will notice.
It’s something the NSW Wolfpack will be building their national championship charge around when they host Western Australia at Ziems Park Corrimal on Saturday.
The Wollongong Mustangs will be heavily represented, with offensive lineman Christian Adams and Dylan Jones key cogs on the line of scrimmage, while running back Angus Robbins will be the youngest member of the NSW squad.
It’s something Adams describes “a dream come true” so early in a burgeoning career in the sport.
“As a kid you dream of playing for NSW, for me at the time it was rugby league, but now it’s American Football,” he said.
“I had a couple of friends playing, that’s generally how it goes. I knew someone who was playing, I went along and got a place on the O-line.
“My first season was pretty terrible but I started to pick it up, stuck with my training and just tried to learn everything I could.
“Myself and Dylan owe a lot to Jordy Stalker, our offensive line coach at the Mustangs. The foundations he laid for us were fantastic.”
They’ll be leaning heavily on those foundations on Saturday against what’s traditionally a sizeable defensive line for Western Australia.
“They were in the top two last year so they played in what was essentially the final and only lost to Queensland by a field goal,” Adams said.
“The onus is definitely on [the offensive line] to set the tone. If we don’t fire off the ball and we don’t get moving well we’re not going to succeed,
“We’ve got to be real thinkers, it’s chess with moving people. We’ve got to have calls, we need to know what we’re all doing, we need to trust the guys either side of us and obviously play our role.
“It’s really tough and if you don’t do it right the whole team can look pretty silly.”
Saturday’s tournament opener against WA will be one of two games the Wolfpack play in Wollongong, where they’ll also host Queensland, while they’ll play road games against South Australia and Victoria in the five-week campaign
The Mustangs will also be represented on the NSW coaching staff through defensive coordinator Mitch Woellner, who said round one the biannual tournament is always a step into the unknown.
“This tournament only occurs every two years so with different players and different coaches there’s no guarantee what we’ll get [from WA] until we see them,” Woellner said
“We’ve been pretty lucky this camp that everything’s flowed through pretty effectively but we spent a long time planning.
“The reality is for the next five weeks we’ll scout [opposition] players, we’ll have film on all of them so we’ll know what we need to adjust and how approach different things. The challenge is, other coaches will be doing the same to us.”
The match at Ziems Park will kickoff at Midday.