Missing out on last year’s grand final, Southcity captain-coach Kyle McCarthy is looking to make up for lost time on Saturday.
McCarthy had shoulder surgery after the last round of the season and he was forced to watch on from the sidelines as the Bulls went back-to-back.
He can’t wait to be back on deck to take on Gundagai at Equex Centre.
“It’s a good feeling to be training not watching them train,” McCarthy said.
“It was pretty tough to watch last year but they obviously didn’t need me.
“Hopefully I can add something this year and we can get the job done again.”
This time around McCarthy also has some extra responsibilities.
He took over the coaching reins this season and has enjoyed being at the helm.
“It has been a pretty good gig to get into,” McCarthy said.
“It’s been a similar team for two seasons and premiership winners so it was a good gig to get into and have Skin (Nick Skinner) there to help again made it a lot easier.
“Having a good senior playing group really helped too.”
He’s also in a different position.
McCarthy was the Bulls halfback last season but has shifted to hooker to help cover Pani Manawatu.
Manawatu spends two weeks on, two weeks off working in Queensland, and returns to the side after missing the Bulls last win over Brothers and will come off the bench on Saturday.
Albury secured a hat-trick of titles in 2014 with a massive win over Southcity.
Now the Bulls are looking to become the fourth club to win three Group Nine titles in a row.
Out to join the Kanagroos sides of 1999-2001 and Temora in the 1950s, McCarthy believes it will come down to whoever controls the ruck.
“We have to be good in the middle,” he said.
“They like to play that game and they start really well all the time.
“We can’t afford for it to be like two years ago and be down 14-0 after 10 minutes, we have to start well, weather that storm and complete well.
“We’ve had a push issues with that late in the season, handing the ball over and letting in tries off the back of that so if we can defend our errors we will be sweet.”
Southcity come into the grand final on the back of a 10-game winning streak.
They won their first five games of the season before back-to-back losses to Kangaroos and Brothers and they haven’t been beaten since.
McCarthy doesn’t believe it affects their preparation for the big one.
“You worry in bits and pieces about the opposition but normally if we get our own game intact we are pretty good,” he said.
“It’s been drilling those points of completing and backing up each other.
“If we can get all that then we will be in for a good shot.”