James Smart is determined a premiership win won’t define his tenure as Gundagai captain-coach.
Smart is coming to the end of his second three-year stint as the Tigers leader and is taking the side into a fifth grand final.
However he is yet to taste the ultimate success.
The 28-year-old would love to raise the trophy on Saturday, but feels he’s already achieved his goal of being a team the town can be proud of.
“It’s hard to compare years as every year is different but in years gone by I’ve probably stressed about winning or losing, expectations, pressure and things like that,” Smart said.
“I’ve been in plenty of grand finals and how I feel come Sunday morning is not going to change how I will look back on my time as coach at the club, win or lose.
“When I first started the job I had one goal in mind that I wanted to see the club achieve and I feel as though we’ve done that.
“We’ve been there for a while so now is just about enjoying the game on Saturday.”
For a town of its size Gundagai has punched well above it’s weight in recent years.
They’ve been in six of the last eight grand finals, plus won leaguetag and reserve grade titles in that time, and claimed three junior grand finals on Saturday.
Smart credits the passion for rugby league in the town as he prepares for a different chapter.
“I know we’ve been in a lot of grand finals and only have the one win in recent memory but we are competing with some pretty powerful clubs and I’m proud of the club and where we sit today,” he said.
“There is so much potential at the club as there passion towards rugby league in Gundagai.
“The kids in Gundagai love rugby league as well, the junior league is going really well and even though we are a very small town we had an opportunity to be considered as one of the stronger clubs in the area and I feel as though we have done that.”
It’s been an injured plagued season for both Smart and the Tigers.
Hamstring, knee and hand problems saw him miss almost half the season, but things seem to be coming right at the business end.
For the third week running Gundagai bring the same team and Smart hopes it can help deliver them a win over Southcity in the decider after losses in the past two seasons.
“It’s nice change for us,” he said.
“Every time we’ve played Southcity in the grand final they’ve come in really fresh and I felt like we’ve always struggled to match their intensity across the 80 minutes, but I feel like this year we’re much better equipped to handle it.”