BATHURST Panthers centre Blake Lawson is feeling sick ahead of this Saturday’s Group 10 premier league match with Oberon, but it’s not due to the pressure of chasing a minor premiership.
It will be because the passionate member of the men in black’s line-up will find himself wearing a blue and white jersey – something which Bathurst rivals St Pat’s are better known for.
Still, Lawson is prepared to wear those colours given it will help Bathurst Panthers to promote awareness of Friedreich’s Ataxia, a disease of the nervous system which claimed the life of his older brother Shane in January.
“It makes me a bit sick actually about wearing the same colours as St Pat’s,” Lawson said.
“My brother was a passionate supporter of Bulldogs and league in general. He used to run around the countryside for me taking me to all my games as a junior, so I suppose I can wear the blue and white one time.
“He was diagnosed at the age of nine and at the time, he was the youngest person diagnosed with it. He wasn’t expected to live past 21, but he made it to 42.
“He played footy until he was able to, then he was wheelchair bound for the rest of his life – it’s a terminal disease. It’s great thing for the club to support us and create a bit of awareness, it’s a bit overwhelming to be honest.
“He loved league and came to the footy all the time, so he’d be proud the club’s wearing blue and white.”
While Lawson was emotional when speaking about his brother in the build up to the match, come Saturday he will have his mind focused on the task of beating the Tigers.
That is certainly what Shane would have demanded from his younger brother given Panthers want to finish the regular home and away with a win.
“Footy’s footy, I’ll get over it. He would’ve told me to wake up to myself, well maybe a bit ruder than that,” Lawson said.
“He wouldn’t want the situation to take anything away from my game.
“It will keep us on a run, we don’t want to go into the semis with a loss. We want to keep things going.”
Panthers head into the final round sitting on second place, but are on equal points with competition leaders CYMS. The Orange side’s points difference is +18 better than the men and black’s.
Though CYMS is expected to account for Blayney on Sunday afternoon, there is still a chance Panthers could claim the minor premiership.
However, for Lawson the goal is simply to beat Oberon for a second time this season and keep on winning from there. Panthers accounted for the Tigers 28-6 in June.
“It’s going to be a tough game, it’s going to really test where we are for the season one week out from the finals,” he said.
“Hopefully we get the win. If we get the minor premiership so be it, but if we win we will still get a home semi and hopefully we take it out from there.
“I think after going down the way we did last year, losing two close games in the semis – two points both times and in the last couple of minutes – it was devastating but at the same time it’s really motivating us now.”
Kick-off is at 2pm at Carrington Park, with the jumpers to be auctioned off later in the evening.