GRETA Branxton Colts and Denman Devils go into Sunday’s A Plus Contracting Group 21 grand final at Greta Oval with full-strength squads.
Both clubs enter the replay of last year’s decider, won 20-4 by Denman at Denman Oval, with their best sides in what shapes as a test of the Colts forward power and the Devil “bombing” attack.
Both clubs were also well represented at Wednesday’s Group 21 presentation night at the Muswellbrook RSL where Denman had four players named in the G21 Team of the Year and Greta Branxton one while coach Ron Griffiths shared the coach of the year with Scone’s Daniel Ritter.
Greta Branxton did have six players in the G21 side that won the Greater Northern Championships while Denman produced three.
Greta’s Daniel Bates, Joey Griffiths, Brady Hammond and Ben Murray went on to represent the Greater Northern Tigers in the Country Championships along with Denman’s Ben Hagan.
Hagan was also named one of three Group 21 Representative Players of the Year.
He shared that with Scone’s Daniel Ritter and Tim Smith, the latter going on to win the Group 21 Player of the Year Award.
Hagan deputised for unavailable captain-coach Blake Dureau at Wednesday night’s awards.
His “brain strain segment” with brother, and Scone prop Thomas Hagan, was a funny sideline to the night.
It also offered Ben Hagan the chance to joke.
“I’ve been doing a bit of work with Blake and his kicking game,” Ben Hagan said with a straight face.
It brought a large laugh from the assembled crowd which enjoyed the G21 lock of the year’s humour.
“I joke about it all the time with him,”Hagan laughingly added later on when talking to The Leader.
“But honestly, I’d hate to be one of their wingers or fullbacks,” he said of opposing backs.
“To think that they have got to try to catch some of those bombs or grubbers.
“A lot of our attack does come off his boot and he does have a lot of tricks up his sleeve.
“I’m just fortunate to be playing with him.
“He’s one of the best I’ve ever played with.”
Hagan also said there was a “good feeling” to the side as it prepares for Sunday.
Greta Branxton coach Ron Griffiths acknowledged the threat Dureau’s boot and Hagan’s all-round power game present.
“We’ve trained well, prepared well.
“We haven’t done much different to last year – just tried to stimulate the boys mentally and physically.
“It’s just about getting them up for it now.”
Dureau’s threat is a major factor but Griffiths is confident his back three – Andrew Roberts, Michael Rinkin and Roy Bell – will defuse the kicking raids from Dureau.
“It’s a team effort,” he said.
“We do have our big-game players but all our guys, 1 to 17, will contribute.”