PAST allegiances will be forgotten when the Steamers take on CSU for a spot in the rugby grand final today.
Coach Dave Stuart is a life member of the Reddies, part of the team that lost the 2000 grand final to the Steamers and the competition’s best and fairest when playing for CSU in 1999.
He said he was thankful it was not the season decider.
“I was hoping to avoid the clash and all season it looked like it wouldn’t even be an issue,” he said.
“But they have a reputation for getting over the line when the odds are stacked against them and they did that last week against City.
“I still have a lot of good friends at the club but we have a job to do and that means seeing the Steamers keep our unbeaten record — booking a berth in the grand final.”
The rampaging Steamers have scored more than 50 points against CSU in their two clashes this year, both played away in Wagga.
But Stuart is not anticipating a similar scoreline today.
“It is going to be a tough day,” he said.
“We certainly won’t be able to rest on our laurels — I fully expect Reddies to come out at 100 miles an hour.
“To some extent we shed the shackles, of inconsistencies and mistakes, in the second half of the win last week against Waratahs and we will need to carry that form into the clash on Saturday.
“City had 80 per cent of possession against Reddies last week but couldn’t get over the line — we hope they afford us the same amount of ball.”
Stuart said CSU had match winners across the park.
“Fly-half Paul Hood, fullback Mitch Fealy and Sterling Ross will all be tough to handle,” he said.
“But we also need to play our game, wrap around the rucks and suck players into the centre of the park — and in recent weeks we have added a few variations that mean we are not one dimensional in that pattern of play.”
Today’s major-semi is the early first grade clash on the card, the Steamers choosing the 2.55pm time slot at Connolly Rugby Compex at Wagga over the 4.30pm start.
“We wanted to keep it that way, keep it as close to the likely kick-off for the grand final as possible,” he said.
“Some part of the second game will be played under lights — something we haven’t had to do all year.”