Griffith ready for tight battle when facing Albury Steamers

Griffith will be keeping a close eye on Albury Steamers' Richard Manion.

Griffith will be keeping a close eye on Albury Steamers' Richard Manion.

GRIFFITH coach Seru Rogo admits the Blacks are a little surprised to be playing the Steamers in the grand final.

The Blacks stayed at home rather than travel to Murrayfield last weekend, believing they would face a rematch of their major semi-final opponent, Wagga Waratahs.

Rogo believes they will face a different Steamers to the team they beat in the final game of the home and away season.

“We stayed home, had a run and a feed and the boys were in contact with some people at the game so we were getting updates on the scores every five minutes,” he said.

“We weren’t expecting Albury to win, so our plans were around Waratahs.

“The result and the scoreline came as a bit of a shock.

“But it showed us we need to respect Albury — it appears they are a very different side in the finals, a side with plenty of quality, who know how to play finals football.”

Since the turn of the century both sides have won two grand finals — Griffith in 2002 and 2003, the Steamers in 2000 and last year.

Rogo said it had been a long time between finals for the Blacks but his side had benefited from the week’s rest and was likely to adopt a low-risk start to the decider.

“We had some boys nursing a few injuries from the Waratahs game so it was good to have the week off,” he said.

“They know what is at stake and there is nothing to lose but we won’t take too many risks early on — we can throw it around if we have to but we’ll just wait and see.”

Rogo said the battle of the 10s — the Steamers’ Richard Manion against former Fijian international Dan Rawaqa — would be a key to the outcome.

“The last time we played I think Rawaqa just pipped Manion, so he’ll have a point to prove,” he said.

“I also like the look of the outside centre, Liam Krautz, he makes ground every time he has the ball and was pretty solid in defence.

“But Albury has a strong pack, a big set of forwards, so we’ll need to match them in the set pieces and mauls.

“It’s going to be a tough grand final, very different to the last time we played — we know that.”