JOSH Garden says he is a “Maggie for life” after enjoying a debut season that will reach its climax tomorrow afternoon.
They are words he never thought he would say, considering his ties to Across The Waves and his initial plans to rejoin with the club upon his return from England earlier this season.
But things didn’t work out like he expected.
“I wasn’t happy with the state of the club; things have changed since Tat Whaleboat was coaching there,” Garden said.
“I don’t think it will ever be the club it was without Tat there.”
“I’m a Maggie for life now and as long as I’m in Bundy I’ll play for Easts.”
He admitted he had always dreamed of winning a premiership with the blue and gold, having lost two and being ruled out with injury in a premiership year.
“It broke my heart that did,” he recalled.
But now he has an opportunity to pilot a new side to a breakthrough title — as a player and as a coach.
“I had no intention of coaching when I joined. But they approached me about it and I thought, why not,” he said.
“Having a lot of senior guys around has helped, plus Zilly, Kel Nagas Snr, Graham Tanner and Tat have all helped me out,” he said.
The 26-year-old also thanked his mum for proving to be a calming influence in his debut coaching stint.
“I’ve got to give her a wrap,” he said of mother Donna.
“I always get a bit worked up and she’s there to calm me down. She probably knows more about the game than I do as well.”
Garden’s boys have set the trend at the club, with their under-13, 14, 15 and 16 teams all playing in finals tomorrow.
“We have a great junior base and good people at the club. I couldn’t see myself at any other club now, and I never thought I’d be saying that,” Garden said.
Throughout the season he has been criticised by some for his outspoken approach, but even his detractors acknowledge the good work he has done.
“It’s a tough gig being player coach; there is a lot to keep in mind on top of your own performance,” Brothers player Mat Templeman said.
“He’s been their general this year and has controlled play really well for them.”
All courtesies will be swept aside when the two sides meet tomorrow, in the main game at 3.40pm.
Finals start at 8.25am in the morning and continue all day.
The forecast is for clouds and possible light showers.