They’ve beaten everyone who has stood in their way this season, have a passionate fanbase cheering them on, and the benefit of home ground advantage in the New Holland Agriculture Cup grand final.
The Narromine Gorillas have been a force to be reckoned with this season but in the lead-up to Saturday’s decider clash with the Parkes Boars, coach Craig Campbell has told his players to do nothing but enjoy the moment.
“This week at training is all about keeping our consistency and momentum rolling,” Campbell said.
“What we’ve been doing so far this season has been working so all we need to do is build on that, because we know Parkes will be gunning for us.
It’s not every year that you get to play in, let alone host a grand final.Narromine coach Craig Campbell
“That being said, it’s not every year that you get to play in, let alone host a grand final, so we’ll be trying to enjoy the week as much as possible.”
And while there’s plenty of positivity in the camp, it hasn’t been all smooth sailing for the Gorillas.
The undefeated minor premiers head into the decider without starting scrumhalf and one of the competition’s standouts, Jono Sharkey.
Sharkey has been ruled out with a broken thumb but the Gorillas have a worthy replacement in the vastly experienced Ryan Pratten.
The Gorillas squad is largely made up of locals, while there’s an international feel around the Boars.
Welshman Lloyd Rogers has been one of Parkes’ best in the run to the decider and he’s also feeling positive.
“They’ve got a great pack and they disrupt the ball, but I’m confident we can get it done. If we can get clean ball we can get them in the backs,” he said.
“We knew it’d be us and Narromine … anything can happen in the finals. Fingers crossed.”
Rogers was his side’s hero in last weekend’s extra-time, preliminary final win over CSU.
That feat is even more impressive given the 23-year-old has grown up playing rugby union with no post season.
It’s first-past-the-post-wins rugby in the northern hemisphere.
With the Boars trailing CSU Bathurst 34-32 following a Joe Nash try right on full-time, Rogers stepped up to take what was potentially the conversion that would send the clash into extra time.
With the wind howling, the ball fell off the tee twice before a third wobble, with his team’s season on the line, brought about a bit of panic.
Pressure-cooker situations will do that to you.
But, as the CSU Bathurst chasers charged out from the goal line in an attempt to smother the conversion, Rogers picked up the ball and coolly potted a drop goal to nab the two points and level things up at 34-all.
All from a player that’s never tasted the pressure of finals footy.
“I was looking around hoping one of the boys would come and help me out but the ref shouted ‘10 seconds’ and I went in for the kick and it fell off again ... I just thought ‘stuff it’ and I went for it. I was just focused on the posts … but the heart was pounding,” he laughed.
“I was pretty excited after it went through, I wanted to cheer but I kept calm.
“Momentum swung our way after that. We eventually got over and the boys went ballistic.”
There is certain to be a massive crowd on hand at Cale Oval, with the Gorillas also featuring in the second grade grand final against the Blayney Rams.
The second grade decider kicks off at 1.40pm with the main game starting at 3.15pm.