JASON Latham is one of Walcha’s longest servants and today he gets the chance to lead the Rams onto the grand final stage for the first time in more than 10 years.
It’s been a while between grand finals and none of the current crop has experienced the ultimate game with Rams, in first grade at least.
“I can’t wait,” Latham said.
“Everyone’s really keen and the town’s gone mad.”
“There’s red and white everywhere.”
“I just want it to be Saturday now.”
After the week off, which was good to get over the bumps and bruises of their major semi-final against Inverell, he is itching to get out there.
He’s been playing for the Rams for 11 seasons.
He originally started out in the centres and playing alongside the likes of Jock McLaren and Chris Robson.
“I played league until I was 16,” he said.
“I started playing union when there was no league in town.”
He’s seen quite a few players come and go in that time.
“The last few years it’s been the same core,” he said.
“We’ve had the odd player come in to prop the club up.”
Guys like Simon Newton and Sam Martin. They’ve both been a big part of the reason they are where they are – in a grand final.
“It’d be pretty nice to play in a grand final,” Latham said.
“With the competition as tough as it is they don’t come around too often.”
Finals chances don’t for that matter either. It’s taken the Rams three seasons to get back in the finals mix.
“For a small town like us to have both teams in is huge,” Latham said.
Against the Highlanders their defence won it for them and it will be a key component again today.
“Defence will be the key, and stopping their momentum,” Latham said.
“We need to try to get their big fellas down, and slow them down.”
They’ve shown they can beat Pirates but will have to improve on their last- round effort.
“They got the jump on us, got three quick tries,” Latham recalled.
Before they knew it they were down 21-3. They dragged themselves back into it but Pirates pulled away again.
“We’ve definitely got to start well,” Latham said.
He said the longer they can stick with them, the better their chances.
“If we can hold onto the ball when we’ve got it and limit our mistakes we’re a chance,” he said.