This time of year, a lot of thought goes into how the players are feeling, what they are expecting, how their nerves are…. but what about the coaches?
We found out.
Saturday will be Labrador coach Perry Meka’s seventh Grand Final. The big day is no stranger to him, so he has an idea of what to expect and how to handle it.
“You’ve got to try and make the week as normal as you can, because you can overplay it,” Meka said.
“It’s the same with the players; they can play the game out in their head before they even hit the ground. It’s my job as a coach to keep a bit of normality about the week, and go about things like we usually do.
“Don’t get me wrong though, it’s a Grand Final, you have to enjoy the fact that is a Grand Final. You need to feel the nerves, the atmosphere, all of that, otherwise you wouldn’t want to do it.”
So what will he be telling his players just before they run out?
“It’s about moments. You’ve got to play moment by moment. I know that is a cliché, but you really do,” he said.
“When it is your turn to go, you’ve got to go. Rather than over playing it, you’ve just got to work it contest by contest. That’s what wins you a Grand Final.”
He said the youngsters Labrador have fielded this year are ready for that.
“We have got six kids under 20 so that is a young side; but I’ve said to them they are in the side because when it is their turn to go, they go. They have no fear.
For Palm Beach Coach Chad Owens, this will be his first senior Grand Final experience.
“I’m in the same position as a few of the boys, so it’s a very exciting time for all of us,” Owens said.
“I’m really excited, really looking forward to game day, but at the same time, you want to enjoy the week because you don’t know if you’re going to be in this position ever again. That is something we have spoken to the players about, enjoy the week, and don’t play the game in your head before Saturday.”
He said they are as ready as they will ever be.
“If we leave it up to the last week to find out if we are ready or not I think we haven’t done our job during the year. We think we are prepared, we think we are ready to go, we have done all the little things that we have needed to tick off along the way.
So what will be key for the Lions come 2:10pm on Saturday.
“It’s meant to be a hot day, it’s going to be 28 degrees so the midfield depth is going to be key. We are going to have to have run through there all the time,” Owens said.
“It’s also about shutting down their three big key forwards, but then you can’t forget about the little ones like Toddy Featherstone either.
“Whoever wins the midfield battle will win the game.”
It’s a big week for everyone involved. These two men have as a much of a say in how things play out as anyone.
For all the Grand Final info, click HERE
By Andrew Wiles