Tough is a word that keeps popping up as Pirates coach Mat Kelly talks about Saturday’s grand final rematch.
The word comes up not only when talking about the 41-19 win against Walcha – who Kelly said would be Pirates toughest opposition this season – but also the performance of the players.
In particular, Brendan Rixon.
“I haven't played with much tougher than him,” Kelly said.
Rixon, playing fly-half, “played most of the game with a broken arm”.
Kelly didn’t just mention Rixon’s toughness but went on to say how well he played slotting into Andrew Moodie’s playmaker’s role.
“He was absolutely great at 10,” Kelly said.
“He took on that extra responsibility. He wouldn’t have come off with a broken leg.”
Rixon currently has a half-cast on his left arm after breaking his radius and the back said he was waiting for another x-ray next week to determine if surgery was required.
Rixon had broken the arm before and while he said it felt “pretty sore” during the match, it wasn’t until the game was coming to a close and after that he thought it might be serious.
“Afterwards, I thought I needed to follow it up and get someone to look at it,” Rixon said.
Kelly said Rixon has played a great role at the club – both on and off the field – and had his fingers crossed for a return in 2018.
“Hopefully he’ll be back for the end of the year,” Kelly said.
Other standouts from the Walcha clash included forward Jack Shelton – who Kelly named as Pirates’ best player on the day – and James Trappel in the nine.
Kelly said the clash had a semi-final feel to it.
He also said it was good to get on top of Walcha.
“They’re a great side,” Kelly said.
“There’s very well drilled, quality players there. It’s good to be currently on the right side of the scoreboard.”