ALBURY Thunder coach Josh Cale is bracing his charges for a torrid reception from Gundagai when they lock horns in a replay of last year’s grand final at Greenfield Park today.
Cale said yesterday the Tigers would be eager to redeem themselves from the 30-20 loss and predicted a frenetic opening 20 minutes.
“I think they will probably give it that little bit extra,” Cale said.
“Whenever you win a competition you are targeted by other teams and we found that out last year.
“I’m sure Gundagai will come out hard.
“I think they will still have a bit of a sour taste in their mouth from the grand final and we will have to be ready to play.”
Thunder, who have lost Dion Belford-Laulu, Mark Walsham, Cale, Steve Meredith and Mitch McLeod from last year’s premiership side, will be hoping the Cameron Breust and Willie Heta combination clicks immediately.
Heta has shrugged off a shoulder problem to be fit while Breust has looked classy in trial matches and looks set to make a big impact on debut.
“We would have liked another trial and are probably a bit underdone but we will keep it as simple as we can and see how we go,” Cale said.
“Cameron Breust will give us another dimension in attack and I think he’ll work well with Willie.
“Willie and Matt Rose took a bit of time to gel a couple of years ago but they worked it out pretty quickly when they got into a rhythm.”
Gundagai coach Cameron Woo has played down the significance of the grand final rematch, saying the Tigers were only worried about themselves.
While Woo said he was quietly confident ahead of the game, he knows it isn’t going to be easy especially as few sides come to Greenfield Park and leave with the points.
“Albury will be typical Alb-ury,” he said.
“They’re the benchmark of the competition, you look across their line up and they’re all quality and they can attack you from all over the park so there can be no lapses.
“We’ve got to play our best footy for the full 80 minutes and if we can do that it will give us the best chance to get the points.”