Bombers acquire target, but it's not new for Wheeler
JOSH Wheeler is used to being in the crosshairs.
The Novacastrian has dominated the QFA Wide Bay Sunshine Coast competition in his first full season with Bay Power.
Wheeler has 34 goals to his name to be second on the top goalkickers list for the 2017 season.
The goals help, but it is Wheeler's tendency to appear near the Sherrin regardless of its place on the footy field that has made him arguably the man to watch this season.
His dominance of opposition teams, and importance to the Power's success, is part of the reason Hervey Bay Bombers coach Tony Potter painted a big, red target on the six-time premiership winner.
But for Wheeler, who played his 200th game for Newcastle City last year before he joined the Power full time, said it would not be different to any other week.
"I've been targeted my whole career so it won't be any different,” he said.
"It will be a lot harder because it's a final, but even then it was a tougher competition (in Newcastle).”
Every coach has sought to shut down Wheeler, with varying success.
Potter could only watch as a Wheeler and Matty Schlein-led Power tore his side apart in their first meeting this season. On that day, he made it abundantly clear to his players of the man they shut down, but it allowed the Power to feed Schlein's five goal day.
"My game plan doesn't change,” Wheeler said.
"I'll start in the guts for the first 10 minutes or so, until the sting is out of the game, then will see if I can get some time either down the front or the back.”
The Power will need to overcome a lack of match fitness if they are to best their cross-town rivals.
The club has played once since July 9 courtesy of back-to-back byes and a Gympie forfeit.
"We've trained well, but it's been hard to keep the boys' concentration up,” he said. "It's not ideal but it will be a completely different ball game (today).”
Wheeler, despite playing nine grand finals in 11 years, said today's elimination final ranked as one of the biggest games of his career.
"I've had a fair bit of experience in finals but we've usually gone straight through. Every game is a grand final for us,” he said.
"I've played in some big games but this will be the biggest game of my career.”