THREE decades after the last Junee premiership, Diesels captain-coach Matt Hands says the weight of expectation is not a burden for the team.
With six wins in seven games, including four straight victories, Junee is in the rare position of being joint premiership leader.
With Junee’s last Group Nine title triumph in 1986 a fading memory, there is genuine anticipation that the Diesels may finally get to celebrate again in September.
Amid the excitement in the town, Hands, however, is adamant the team is not being swept up by its success.
“We’re definitely not getting ahead of ourselves,” Hands said.
“We’re not even half way through the competiton.
“The players know that grand finals are not won in June.”
Putting aside Junee’s impressive string of wins against Albury, Temora, Cootamundra and Tumbarumba, Hands is wary as the Diesels prepare to play Tumut at Twickenham on Sunday.
“It’s always tough up there (Tumut), and can be a lot tougher depending on the weather” Hands said.
“Even last year when they didn’t win a game it was far from easy.
“We definitely won’t be taking them lightly.”
For Hands, Sunday’s game will mark a minor milestone for the team, with virtually a full complement of players available for the first time this year.
“The only player missing will be bench forward Jackson Metcalfe,” Hands said.
“We’re just about full strength.”
Significantly, star recruit Peter Little returns to the backline to partner Will Merritt, while Hands and Hayden Diggins are in the halves and Trent Schubach at hooker.
Going into Sunday’s game, Hands admits a “light preparation” has not been an advantage.
“At this stage we probably need a tough game,” he said.
“We’ve got Gundagai and Cootamundra in the next two weeks.”
Victory for Junee on Sunday has the potential to push the team to the outright lead on the table.
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