Today Sam Bourke takes a look at the optimism in the water out Bondi way, as the Sydney Roosters loo...
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GRAND FINAL 2005 NOTEBOOK: Wednesday 28th September 2005
Wednesday was ?Cowboys Day? in Townsville centered around the team?s departure to Sydney in the afternoon. People lined the streets that link Dairy Farmers Stadium to the airport in an outstanding show of support to their side which has gone one step further this year. 3000 fans reportedly greeted the team at the airport, wishing their team all the best for the decider. Well done Townsville.
On the footage show of the airport entry in particular, it was both funny and a little sad to see the lone Tigers supporter have his flag ripped out of his grasp by an overzealous hometown fan. You have to wonder if that same supporter would enjoy having their flag ripped away from her at the Grand Final.
In a great interview on Fox Sports tonight with Laurie Daley, Tigers coach Tim Sheens shed a little more light on the likely replacement for the possible withdrawal of winger Pat Richards. If you?ve got Foxtel and can?t catch NRL on Fox Grand Final Preview replay, tape it and sit down and watch it before The Footy Show Thursday night. Sheens said he will replace Richards with a specialist winger only so the Grand Final prospects for John Wilson and Bronson Harrison look bleaker than they did on Tuesday. Matthew Rieck should be the front runner based on his more recent experience on the wing this season (6 games), although Robert Miles (3 games) and Dean Collis (6 games at centre and off the bench) could also factor into the equation should Richards pull out. One gamer Shannon McDonnell realistically must be a gigantic long shot. Despite the comparisons to the Paul Osbourne selection masterstroke of 1994, McDonnell is not an experienced ball playing prop who is only required for a 15-20 minute cameo at the start of a game. If McDonnell plays he will be targeted heavily in defence and required to play the full 80mins. All as a one game rookie... it just doesn?t seem likely.
Stat of the Day
If the Cowboys win the Premiership they will be the first team to win both the NRL (NSWRL, ARL, SL) and Reserve Grade equivalent in the same season since the Canterbury Bulldogs won the double in 1980. The North Queensland Young Guns took out the Queensland Cup this year which is the equivalent competition to the NSWRL Premier League for two other NRL clubs ? Brisbane with Toowoomba and Melbourne with Norths.
?Grand finals don't come along every day. Anyone who has spent time in this game will tell you that," Graham Murray sums up how lucky the 34 players involved in the game are, given how many great players never reached a decider.
"We had an early lead, coughed up a lot of ball and made lots of mistakes and I thought it was going to be a very long year.? Todd Payten confesses the concerns he held for the season, following the Tigers first round loss to Parramatta.
?But we've had a lot of success with the tactic over the last few weeks, so if it's working, I'm happy to keep doing it." Brett Firman explaining while he?s not wild about starting off the bench, he realises the role he?s played coming off the bench has been key to the Cowboys last two wins.
?"I know I'm getting a lot of attention lately and no disrespect to Braith Anasta, he's a great player, but he got a lot of media attention early in his career. I don't want to end up being called an overrated player because of what the media says about me. There's a lot of expectation and stuff. Sometimes I feel like I'm getting more praise than I deserve." Benji Marshall revealing he?s wary of the media beating up his profile before he?s well and truly earned it.
?I thought the big fellas played very well for us last weekend. When they do that, it gives our little blokes the chance to open up. This will be Paul's final game for the club. He has been sensational for us.? Graham Murray sings the praises of his forward leader, who is off to play for Warrington next season.
?It's not the first time I've missed a grand final and if I started thinking about it, I'd get very depressed.? Suspended forward Carl Webb choosing not to dwell on his attempt to depress the cheekbone of Ryan Hoffman, which cost him his shot at a premiership.
Grand Final Trivia Question Three
How many players from the 2003 Penrith Panthers who won the Grand Final (so not just the 17 who played in the game) have appeared in first grade with the Tigers since 2004? A. 1 B. 2 C. 3 D. 4
Yesterday?s Answer: B. Kevin Hardwick and D. Michael Pobjie ? replaced Roach and Sironen in the coaching ?blunder? many Balmain supporters believe cost them the 1989 Grand Final.
Apologies for the typo listing Peter Sterling having played in the 81-85 Grand Finals ? that should have read 81-84 ? as Saints lost to Canterbury in the 1985 decider. And Parramatta lost to Manly not St. George in 1976; they did however lose to the Dragons in the 1977 Grand Final.