TAKING on his former club Oberon Tigers - it's a match-up that Luke Branighan has looked forward to ever since he signed up with St Pat's, but come Saturday afternoon it won't quite be the contest he had anticipated.
Instead of steering the Saints from five-eighth against a Tigers outfit he captain-coached in 2017 and 2018, Branighan will watch on from the sidelines.
The new Saints captain-coach tore his left pectoral muscle in last Sunday's loss to Cowra and is expected to miss between four and five weeks.
"I did it early in the Cowra match and tried to stay on, but I came off early in the second half because I was becoming a liability," Branighan said.
"At first I thought it could have been the season because I had torn my other pec back in 2007. It was nowhere near as painful as when I did the right one. I was making a tackle and my arm hyper-extended backwards, I felt a tear and I knew straight away what it was because I'd done my other one."
Naturally Branighan is disappointed he won't get to line up against the Tigers, but he is trying to see the positives of his situation. He said not playing will allow him to devote a greater focus on how to inflict Oberon's fourth loss of the season.
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"No doubt everyone loves playing their old clubs, so it's disappointing, but now I can just focus on coaching the next month," he said.
"It probably won't hit home that I'm not playing until I'm standing on the sidelines watching. That will be the hardest part. But it's not about me, it's about the team and we've got to go out there with a good attitude.
"Obviously I know a fair bit about a few players up there, so that's always a bonus."
Taking Branighan's place at five-eighth will be former premiership winning playmaker Garry Reilly, while Adam Booth retains the fullback role.
The coach is confident his new back line combination will handle the job as the Saints look to force their way back into the top four with their third win of the season.
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"I'm very lucky to have Garry. He won a premiership with St Pat's in 2014, he's got that attacking flair and he's been there done that before," Branighan said.
"Even though I can't play I've got blokes like Garry Reilly and Tom Clyburn who can play in the halves and obviously having Tim Holman there, he's a quality, quality halfback, I can breathe a little bit easier."
"It's a big game for both sides, Oberon, while they haven't won many they've been in every game. I watched them play against Orange CYMS, they are a very dour side, they work hard in defence and they like the physical stuff."
Kick-off at Jack Arrow Oval on Saturday is at 2.15pm, with the action beginning at 10.30am with league tag.