Speaking at this week’s Group 10 captain’s call, Cowra captain Josh Rainbow said a grand final win for the Magpies would cap off the club’s season.
The Magpies have already won the minor premiership and Rainbow was last weekend named the Group’s best player, coach Steve Sutton the group’s premier coach and Braydn Cassidy the Premier League’s top try scorer.
Regarding Cowra’s preparations for this Sunday’s decider Rainbow said: “It’s been good, we’ve been trying to get through our sets at training, be relaxed and get training right, turn up on the day and be good.”
Of the announcement he was Group 10’s best player for 2018, Rainbow admitted he knew he was close to the top of the voting “but I didn’t know I was that close”.
“It was a bit of a shock and a surprise but it was good,” he said of the announcement he was the fourth Cowra Magpie in history to walk away with the award.
“It’s a bit of an accomplishment, all of the hard work has paid off that I have done through the year, and everyone else in the club.”
Rainbow said he “half hoped” the club would be in the position it now finds itself in and that pre-season confidence was boosted with the announcement that Steve Sutton would coach the side in 2018.
“When Sutto turned up, I thought, I’ve heard good things about him so it was good. Twice before he’s coached the club and both times I was with other clubs, so third time lucky,” Rainbow said.
“He’s very good, very smart, a good bloke too,” he said.
Reflecting on Cowra’s loss in the 2014 grand final Rainbow said the result that day had been the topic of conversation among some of that side’s players but mostly in terms of how Bathurst St Pat’s player Benji John had ripped Cowra apart.
John goes from foe to alley, turning out for Cowra on Sunday in the crucial dummy half role.
The Magpies, Rainbow says, realise they will need to control the ruck to get over the Panther’s side on Sunday.
“We need to control their big players bashing forward, if we do we should be half a chance of getting over them,” he said.
While the Magpies realise there is danger right across the park in the Panthers side, Rainbow said Cowra obviously needed to control Panthers forward Brett Seager who played a major role in Panthers win over Orange Hawks in last Sunday’s Group 10 preliminary final.
“The centres are really good, Doug (Hewitt) obviously and the other half, but if we get to our sets, complete them obviously, control the game and get good kicks to the corners we should be good.
“Warren Williams has played really good for us, Blake Tidswell, Ronnie (Lawrance), the forwards, they’ve all set the platform for us,” Rainbow said of the Magpies line up.
Hewitt says he’s fine
Bathurst Panthers captain coach Doug Hewitt says a knee injury he has been carrying through this season is fine and he’ll be ready for Sunday.
He says he came through last weekend’s Hawks match a lot better than he thought he would and since then has been “doing all the right things” to make sure he plays on Sunday.
Hewitt has been playing with a meniscus tear.
The meniscus is a piece of cartilage that provides a cushion between your femur (thighbone) and tibia (shinbone). There are two menisci in each knee joint.
“It’s one of those injuries that you can play on through, it’s sort of what you can tolerate and at the moment it is pretty good,” Hewitt said.
Thrust into the captain coach role at the beginning of this season Hewitt said he definitely didn’t think, at the start of the season, the Panthers would be fighting out for the premiership.
“When it first came about you think about it, it might happen down the track.
“To take over a team like I have, with all the boys I’ve got it made it just that more simpler, we didn’t have to change that much, just add a little bit extra in there.
“The blokes that have all come through have come ahead in leaps and bounds, making my job that much easier.
“A lot of blokes we lost were a massive part of Panthers last year.
“To start off with you worry about that straight away but everyone that has come through has held their own,” Hewitt said.
Ironically three players who were part of Panthers last year, Joey Bugg, Braydn Cassidy and Jeremy Gordon will turn out for the Cowra Magpies on Sunday.
The Panthers finished fourth at the end of the Group 10 regular season meaning they’ve been playing sudden death football for the best part of a month and Hewitt thinks the side’s mental game has played a big part of their success.
“This year we’ve gone (into games) with just playing for the bloke next to you.
“You’re always going up against teams with a label of being bigger and better.
“Our blokes love that they are just going out there to do their best, there is no expectation and it is just working for us.
“We keep showing up for each other and that’s how it’s pretty much been throughout the final series.
“Through the year we’ve had a pretty good feeling.
“Even though we muck around a little bit, we do the hard yards when it comes to it.
“Going into the final series we just thought we only had to make the final five and we’d give it a bit of a crack.
“All of the sudden death games, we just kept showing up.”
The other injury worry for Panthers early in the week was to Brett Seager who received a head knock in last Sunday’s Panthers vs Hawks match but Hewitt says he is good to go for Sunday.
“He’s all good, he messaged me the next day and said it’s the best he’s felt, it was like getting a week off.
“His body is probably as fresh as it has been all year.
“He was at training last night and he’s feeling good and ready to go,” Hewitt said of the danger man.
Panthers haven’t beaten Cowra this year but Hewitt said both games had been in the balance and were decided by fifty fifty calls, “we just need to keep showing up, it’s going to be an arm wrestle”.
“It will be about who weathers the storm the best,” he said.
The main game kicks off at Sid Kallas Oval at 3pm on Sunday.