WANGARATTA Rovers coach Paul Maher says the Hawks “absolutely” deserve to play finals, despite losing six of their past seven games.
Rovers must beat Wodonga at John Flower Oval tomorrow to jump back into the top five after a shocking run of form leading into the business end of the season.
The Hawks have tasted victory just once since June, with a 75-point win over Wodonga Raiders in round 13 being their most recent success.
The club has lost four on the trot but its coach said yesterday the team had done enough to be rewarded with a finals berth.
“Absolutely,” he said.
“Over the course of the year, we’ve given a lot of young guys opportunities and had a few injuries, just like everyone else in the league.
“If we can win this week, we should get in, which means we will have deserved it — our destiny is in our hands.”
However, Maher was the first to concede that would be easier said than done against a Wodonga team looking to send retiring coach Ben Hollands out on a high.
“No game has been easy this year and we need to come prepared,” Maher said.
“Myrtleford came out last week prepared for the challenge.
“We must want the ball more than they do — we’re really looking forward to it.
“Obviously they’ll play for Ben, but we are going in with a positive mindset.”
In a boost for the Hawks, former AFL player Jarrad Boumann has returned after a hip problem.
In other selection news, North Albury captain Daniel Leslie is back from a perforated ear drum in what shapes as a huge boost to the Hoppers’ chances of beating a resurgent Myrtleford in the hills.
Lavington stars James Saker and Luke Garland have been rested by the Panthers for their trip to Corowa-Rutherglen.
James Brain will make his comeback for the Roos after returning from a long-term knee injury through the reserves last Saturday.
He hasn’t played seniors since round 2.