Silver City Scorpions training in the dark

Silver City Scorpions, Broken Hill’s lone Rugby League team, is succeeding against the odds – which includes training in the dark – and since its opening season in 2020 it’s had representatives in the NSW side for the Arthur Beetson-Ron Gibbs Outback Shield (essentially, the Outback’s State of Origin), something that fills Scorpions’ Head Coach Rossi Morris with pride.

The Scorpions representatives were Bailey Skelton and Lisiata ‘Keni’ Talalima in the men’s game and Nellie Jones and Kendra Bugmy in the women’s game.

“I’m very proud of all of them. Not just of those two players from my team, but the four nominations I sent in. And a massive congrats to the girls too,” Mr Morris told the Truth.

“All of my boys play to their fullest capabilities and put their body on the line, I couldn’t be any prouder.”

Although the result didn’t go in The Blues favour, the boys from Broken Hill competed well. And it wasn’t just the boys, two women from the Women’s Rugby League side were selected also, a remarkable achievement for a team that lacks basic funding and facilities.

“The main issue is the lighting, which often sees the Rugby League side train in pitch darkness.”

The teams often train in very poor lighting at the ET Lamb Oval in South Broken Hill, they play in borrowed guernseys as they wait for their kits to arrive, they use handed down equipment and have subpar changerooms.

Mr Rossi has been with the Scorpions going on nearly two years, and since he has been involved, they have struggled with this list of issues, but persevered, nonetheless. The main issue is the lighting, which often sees the Rugby League side train in pitch darkness.

“At the moment, we have lights facing different ways, we have lights blown. Earlier this season we had a light hanging down, just a very unsafe situation. The power boxes are so old, we can’t even open one of them,” Coach Rossi told us.

Despite several conversations with different versions of Council and state politicians, nothing has changed at the ET Lamb Memorial Oval for the Scorpions. The lighting issue seemed close to being resolved when the old Norm Fox Oval lights became available, but that has since fallen by the wayside due to a lack of skilled labour to install them at the new location.

“We have taken our plight with regards to these lights to the Lamb Oval 355 committee. We do have a voice within Council, but as of right now we are just hoping to get the financial and physical support to get these lights installed because we are not the only ones who use the oval.”

Although it may seem a cosmetic problem on the surface, Mr Morris assures us it isn’t as he puts the lack of appropriate lighting down to dwindling player numbers at training sessions, not to mention basic player safety.

“It reduces the numbers at training due to work and other commitments because we have had to change the times when we can train, and really, we shouldn’t have to deal with it.

“Our players deserve to be able to feel safe when they train under safe lighting conditions.”

Despite all the issues the club faces, this Saturday they go up against the Wilcannia Boomerangs where a victory will see them qualify for the finals of the Outback Rugby League (ORL) competition. The fixture is set to be played in Menindee.

“Our boys are keen to get into it, we’re fighting for a spot in the finals, so we will go into the match with our hearts on our sleeve,” Coach Morris said.

We asked the City Council what they were doing to help the club, particularly with the lack of lighting, and a Council spokesperson told us, “Council is currently working through an Asset Optimisation Review of all of Council’s buildings, parks and open spaces. Feedback has been collated from all relevant stakeholders with the purpose of the optimisation review to determine future works and upgrades on Council’s assets, which includes the ET Lamb Memorial Oval.”

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