Hawks chasing second premiership
GIN Gin Hawks’ coach Lennox Cassady has backed courageous talent Ben Higgins to come out firing after a tragic week for the teenager.
Higgins’ good mate Grant Barker was killed in a car crash on Thursday morning, but the talented Hawks’ centre vowed he would take his place in the starting line up for tonight’s NDRL grand final against the Magpies at Miriam Vale’s Gary Larson Park.
“He (Higgins) called me before training last (Thursday) night and told me the news. He didn’t train that night but did say he would be ready on Saturday,” Cassady said.
Gin Gin’s remarkable turnaround has given them ample inspiration to claim back-to-back premierships, but Higgins’ loss only adds to their desire.
“It’s definitely something to play for; for him and the other boys,” Cassady said.
“The other lads were
discussing it after training and are ready to get behind Benny and get a win.”
Higgins scored the first try in last weekend’s fiery defeat of Avondale and his coach said he was capable of turning it on again.
“He can run amok at the best of times and his try last week
certainly helped to lift the boys,” Cassady said.
They will need to be firing on all cylinders though, if they want their second premiership in as many years.
Runaway leaders Miriam Vale are next-to-nothing favourites to reclaim the flag, led by Northern Districts stand-out Ryan Walker.
“They are bigger and stronger, no doubt,” Cassady said.
“We definitely need more ball than them to win it, because they can score a try from anywhere while we tend to work hard for our points.”
While Walker has led the Maggies’ charge, Cassady is aware they are more than a one-trick pony.
“I hardly notice him on the park to be honest. It comes from their fullback, dummy half and their forwards as well.
“Hopefully, we can weather the storm of their forward pack and make their halves do some work in defence.”
It’s a tough order, but the Hawks have come a long way since their thumpings at the hands of Avondale and Miriam at the start of the season.
“Anything’s possible now that we’ve come this far,” Cassady said.
Taylor is the man we should be thanking: Simonsen
HE may not admit it himself, but the man responsible for Gin Gin’s resurgence is skipper Dan Taylor.
Club president Doug Simonsen had no doubt the workhorse should be credited for the team’s rise from the dead, saying his effort each week was nothing short or remarkable.
“Some give 100%, but he gives 110%,” Simonsen said.
“He tops the tackle count, comes in to dummy half and is just an inspiration to them all.”
The old-school Simonsen said words would not describe what a win would mean for the town, given their disastrous start to the 2010 campaign.
“I’ve seen lots of turnarounds in football, but this is just remarkable already,” he said.
“There was a very dim light at the end of the tunnel, but they’ve stuck to their guns.”
He predicted the wild antics of last weekend’s semi-final would not feature in the decider.
“It was a niggly game but I think that’s behind us. The guys know if they get up to that stuff they won’t win this one.”