The hunt for a new challenge has drawn arguably the most decorated player currently in Group 10 to the Oberon Tigers in 2018.
Five-time premiership winner, 2013 Group 10 player of the year and 2013 Dave Scott medalist, Ben McAlpine will link with the Tigers ahead of next season in possibly the biggest signature Luke Branighan will secure this off-season.
The pair has a history of playing together that stretches back to their time with the Gateshead Thunder through the 2008 and 2009 seasons.
McAlpine linked back with CYMS in 2010 and helped the green and golds end a 22-year premiership drought that year before a season in Sydney in 2011 was then followed by a stint with Young in Group Nine, where Branighan was captain-coach.
Branighan’s link with Oberon last season has sparked the duo’s most recent association.
“That’s the main reason, the only reason, really,” McAlpine said behind his move to Oberon.
The mercurial custodian is a premiership winner with Bathurst Panthers in 2007 before titles with CYMS in 2010, 2013, 2015 and 2017.
That’s the main reason, the only reason, really.Linking with mate Luke Branighan has sparked a change of clubs for Ben McAlpine
“We speak all the time, played together in England and since he’s come back we’ve been in contact a lot,” he continued.
“It definitely has been a great time with CYMS. I’m after a new challenge as well.”
The gun fullback, who is equally adept at playing in the centres or at five-eighth, says winning this year’s title over Branighan’s Tigers made leaving his junior club a touch easier.
“It definitely would have been harder had we lost,” he added.
Oberon qualified for the club’s first Group 10 grand final in 42 years in 2017, and went within a whisker of snapping an equally long premiership drought when the Tigers were up 22-8 with 20 minutes left on the clock only to lose 23-22 in heartbreaking fashion.
McAlpine said helping the club go one step better was also a motivating factor leading into next season.
“Yeah, that’s another reason. I wouldn’t have gone over if they couldn’t go better. I’m looking forward to it,” he added.