North Wagga are hoping to take the club’s first grand final appearance in 14 years in their stride at Robertson Oval on Saturday.
The Saints named an unchanged line-up for the season finale against Marrar with ruckman Dave Karlberg failing to recover from a calf problem in time to make his case for a return to the side.
It means they take in a settled line-up, having ended Temora’s season last week, and the focus is on enjoying the moment as the club chases its first flag since 1994.
“It’d be very important for the club, being 24 years,” coach Kirk Hamblin said.
“The main message from the president (Mick Barnes) on Tuesday was don’t focus on the past.
“We’ve got an opportunity to write our own history so we’re not worried about how long it’s been or who played in the past grand final.”
Hamblin said the club wants to embrace the week and take their reward for a year of hard work.
We’ve got an opportunity to write our own history so we’re not worried about how long it’s been or who played in the past grand final.Kirk Hamblin
Some sound advice from one of their senior players, James Morris, has been invaluable for a young group, many of whom will taste a first grade grand final for the first time.
“We’ve probably got I think four blokes with grand final experience and he’s the only one that’s won and lost grand finals,” Hamblin said.
“So he was on the front foot to explain when things did go wrong in his grand finals, what his experience was and how important it is to really enjoy the week, because it can go quickly. Playing in first grade grand finals, I was an absolute nervous wreck all week. I probably didn’t enjoy it as much as I should have because I was so worried about my performance.”
North Wagga have started strongly in their last two games against Marrar only to fall victim to a last-quarter comeback.
Hamblin wants his side to capitalise when they have momentum, which is exactly what Marrar did in the fourth quarter of their semi-final at Maher Oval.
“They’re a good team,” he said. “They kill you on the turnover. You don’t make the most of your opportunities, that’s probably your chance gone.
“I think they’ve got good quick outside players and when they do get a run-on, you’ve got to try and stop their momentum.”