Some players can go a whole career without playing in a grand final.
This weekend, three mates who went through the junior grades at Rugby together will play in the RSL-Whitney Cup decider in what is their first season in the top grade together.
Ben Wheeler, Campbell Rose and Baye Wallace have developed into key figures at Rugby.
While the likes of Jordan Moran, Ben Patterson, James O’Brien and captain Nathan Munro have hogged much of the headlines this season, the three young guns will all have important roles to play against South Dubbo in the biggest match of the season.
“It’s a pretty good feeling to get the opportunity so early and get this experience,” Wallace, a promising all-rounder, said.
Wallace is again expected to feature in the middle order with the bat and get through a few overs with his medium pace while Wheeler will again look to get among the runs at the top of the order.
Rose has become the number one wicketkeeper at the club, ahead of Western Zone keeper Jordan Moran, and he too is relishing the opportunity to play on the grand stage.
“It’s been a really good experience and I’m pretty lucky in my first year of first grade. I’ll take it,” he laughed, before speaking about stepping up to first grade this season.
“I just wanted to score runs and do a part for the team and it’s just gone on from there. I could always do better but it’s been good.”
Each of the trio was full of praise for the older members of the Rugby side for helping the trio take that next step in their career and all said multiple RSL-Whitney Cup winner Ben Taylor has been one of the most helpful this season and is someone who always keeps it positive.
I’m pretty lucky in my first year of first grade.Campbell Rose
While the played plenty together in juniors, the real development began under Wayne Munro when they played third grade together.
Forming a pathway for juniors to move into the top grade was one of the main priorities of Steve ‘Tubby’ Wheeler when he stepped up as president three seasons back.
Wheeler’s son, Ben, was the first youngster to move into first grade and has been a regular for two seasons now but this summer has been far better than last.
“It’s pretty exciting. We had the wooden spoon last year and we turned it around this year,” he said.
“There’s better vibes now. It’s been really good and there’s good banter and stuff like that.”
Wheeler added things have been kept simple at training in the lead-up to the decider but Rose knows it is a bigger match and said he expects plenty of chat in the field.
While he said he relishes that side of the competition, Wheeler takes a different approach.
“I just try and ignore. You just don’t listen and don’t let it get to you,” he said.
In terms of the grand final, which starts at 1pm each day this weekend, Rose said knocking over the in-form Henry Railz will be key for the minor premiers while Wheeler felt all-rounder Aidan Bennewith could have a major impact on the match.