East Wagga-Kooringal take on Jets in fight for fifth which could bring an end to Gavin McMahon era

BIG MOMENT: EWK coach Gavin McMahon late in last year's grand final win against Coleambally. The Hawks have made three straight deciders under McMahon.
BIG MOMENT: EWK coach Gavin McMahon late in last year's grand final win against Coleambally. The Hawks have made three straight deciders under McMahon.

It’s a fact that Ardlethan could mark the end of the road for Gavin McMahon as East Wagga-Kooringal coach.

After four years, three grand finals and one flag, every game is potentially his last in charge of the Hawks, beginning with Saturday’s against the Northern Jets to decide fifth spot.

But it’s not a factor for the man himself.

“I haven’t really thought about it too much, it’s more about where the club’s up to,” McMahon said. 

“With all due respect, I think the role of the non-playing coach is probably bit overrated in it all. 

“Our club’s in a pretty good spot now as far as on and off field cultures and that’s up to a lot of people.”

That’s not to take away from the enormity of the occasion for the Hawks. 

They’ve made the last three grand finals and enjoyed the benefit of second chances and weeks off. This season, it starts a week early.

“When you’re playing for your season, and there’s no tomorrow, that’s when it really counts,” McMahon said. 

“Everything before that is just a dress rehearsal. Normally that starts in finals but it’s started a week early this year. After Saturday it’s full-blown finals or it's cricket season.”

BACK IN MAY: Gavin McMahon discussed Hawks' success and 2017 challenges

BACK IN MAY: Gavin McMahon discussed Hawks' success and 2017 challenges

EWK are coming off a heavy loss to Temora – in which they paid a heavy price for mistakes – and have been facing ‘crunch games’ since about round four.

McMahon says he hasn’t been able to fault his players’ attitude all season. It’s execution and decision-making that has let them down on occasion – including their loss on home turf to the Jets earlier in the year.

He’d like to see his players step up and seize this moment – and the finals spot –  for themselves.

“Even through some of the ups and downs we’ve had this year, they’re a pretty resilient group,” he said.

“I’m just really bloody proud of them to be honest, they keep fronting up… it’ll be absolutely no surprise to me if we play very, very well tomorrow.”

The Hawks have lost backman Brenton Roberts to injury and Billy Carey to suspension making forward Chris Jackson’s return timely.

His experience will help in a side still with plenty of matchwinners, including Ben Absolum, Chris Gordon, Brocke Argus and Nick Hull.

But McMahon said they are more than a four-man team.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if a Tom Pocock did really well or a Mitch Castles,” he said.

“James Scott has been really good for the last month or six weeks now. So that’s probably been the most exciting part… it’s the way the other fellas have been coming on.”