Thursday 2 September 2010
Labrador’s fairytale season can get even better on Sunday by beating Morningside on the Gold Coast and advancing to the 2010 QAFL grand final.
The Tigers have never played in a second semi-final in their 14 years in the QAFL, yet they are unlikely to be overcome by stage fright.
Skipper Aaron Shattock experienced grand final glory as a Brisbane Lions player, key forward Tim Notting did it twice, and ruckmen Trent Knobel and Peter ‘Spida’ Everitt have been part of AFL finals campaigns.
Everitt, however, never experienced grand final day and is desperate to claim a senior premiership in his twilight years as a player.
“We have got a few older players in the group although I’m not a big believer in that making a huge difference,” Shattock said.
“What is important is turning up in the right frame of mind.”
Due to finishing minor premiers, Labrador will host the final at their Cooke-Murphy Oval complex, where they lost more games than they did on the road.
“We had two poor games really at home and they were days we didn’t come to play. It was attitude, it didn’t have anything to do with the ground,” Shattock said.
“We would much rather be at home than playing at Morningside.”
The Tigers lost to Morningside at home in Round 7, when they dominated the opening 45 minutes to lead by seven goals, but choked in the last quarter to lose by seven points.
They reversed the result at Esplen Oval in Round 10, learning from the first clash to run all over the Panthers in the last quarter and win by 32 points.
While the Panthers are packed with talent in the midfield and forward line, their defence has been viewed in some quarters as their most vulnerable part of the ground.
Shattock argues otherwise.
“It has probably been our best area all year,” Shattock said.
Full-back Nick Stockdale is a contender for the QAFL Team of the Year, so is Steve Wrigley, Matt Clarke has been dashing at half-back, and Dustin Mills is the most underrated but effective backman in the competition.
Shattock had high praise for first-year Tiger Wrigley in particular.
“I would rate Wrigley in the top couple of players in the League,” he said.
“It often takes 12 months for people to catch on about a player, but we know how good he is.”
The Tigers go into the big final at full strength for the first time since the opening round of the season.
They have made five to six changes almost on a weekly basis until now.
“We’ve done well to get where we have considering the constant changes,” Shattock said. “It also gives us a good amount of confidence that we bat pretty deep.”
Shattock said the Tigers had kept things normal with the build-up, slotting in only an extra session last Saturday.
He and a number of his teammates, along with coach Jarrod Field, were keen onlookers at Fankhauser Reserve on Sunday when Morningside powered past Southport.
“They were impressive – they played very well,” Shattock said of the Panthers. “They didn’t have any passengers.”
Shattock was been an ultra consistent performer for the Tigers in the previous three years, finishing top three in best and fairest voting on each occasion.
He missed Rounds 3-7 and Rounds 11-17 through injury this season, but has got his body right at the perfect time.
“It’s been get to get plenty of miles into the legs without running the risk of getting hurt,” he said of the week’s bye. “I’m sprinting flat out again and I’m looking forward to Sunday.”