COOLAMON coach Jake Barrett is confident the side can go deep into finals even should they miss out on a top three spot, with their hopes to go on the line in Sunday's derby against Ganmain-Grong Grong-Matong.
The Hoppers are a game behind third-placed Wagga Tigers heading into a crucial round where the top six teams all clash against each other.
Although they need to rely on the Tigers to drop a game against either Turvey Park this Saturday or Collingullie-Glenfield Park next week, a win over the Lions at Kindra Park would open up a big chance for the Hoppers given they play lowly Narrandera to finish.
Barrett, who the club confirmed will return as co-coach with non-playing mentor Mark Carroll next year, said a win over the Lions would give them a huge confidence boost after an up and down back end to the year.
The Lions can seal the minor premiership with a win before they have the bye in the last week, but Barrett said Coolamon are keen to make a statement after their traditional rivals thrashed them by 66 points in round nine.
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"We've still got a big opportunity this year, the boys know that and we're really excited for the game against Ganmain. We definitely want to redeem ourselves from last time that's for sure," Barrett said.
"It (using 35 players in seniors) definitely makes it hard at times and that's a range of things, some guys were out of form or some injuries here and there.
"That happens, you have to have the depth and that's no excuse, we should still be giving it a red hot crack.
"In most losses it's just been a quarter where we fall asleep and let team get a roll on.
"Ganmain has got a great side and I still feel they're the ones to beat, especially when they've got their full side in.
"As long as you're in it (finals), you're a chance. We've seen teams in the league do it (finish fourth or fifth) in previous years before making a late run."
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