STEAMERS’ inspirational prop James Kora will start in today’s rugby grand final at Wagga.
The 130-kilogram powerhouse has been in doubt after limping from the field early in the major semi-final win two weeks ago with a hamstring injury.
At the start of the week “House” was only rated a 50-50 chance of playing, a decision at that stage unlikely to be made before today.
But yesterday coach Dave Stuart said Kora was ready to go.
“He trained strongly and pulled up well after training with no soreness,” he said.
“The way we trained on Thursday night you wouldn’t have thought he had been injured and he is keen to start the game too.
“House will add to the strength of the pack and is a weapon from short range near the tryline.”
Sam Mullany is another cleared to play after training on Thursday night but is likely to play in the reserve grade grand final before a decision is made on his availability in the Walsh and Blair Cup decider.
“(Justin) Wheatley trained well also and while there was a question over Mullany he has come through training this week and seems okay,” Stuart said.
“But we won’t risk him starting in the first grade grand final.”
In the two home and away games this year the Steamers have thrashed Waratahs — winning 67-10 in the last game of the first round and then 50-7 after the competition was split into first and second divisions.
But Stuart said what mattered today was the 80 minutes and he was confident the Steamers’ pack would be at their best.
“It was some of the toughest decisions at the selection table this week,” he said.
“Many of the players that have been left out would be automatic selections in first grade at just about every other club.
“But the boys are fired up — they know they have 80 minutes of football left this year and that is all that matters.
“The forwards had a bit of fire about the way they trained, halves Sandy Middleton and Richard Manion have a point to prove, while James Olds was back to his best this week.
“It doesn’t matter that we have been undefeated all year, it is this game that counts and that is the way they are approaching it.”
Stuart expects Waratahs to use similar spoiling tactics that were applied by CSU in the major semi-final.
“They’ll take a bit out of what Reddies did — they’ll pressure the ruck, try to slow our play down,” he said.
“We are just going to have to be committed at the breakdown, make sure we protect the ball.”