Canberra Raiders Cup, under-18s grand final
Who: Queanbeyan Kangaroos v Gungahlin Bulls
Where: Seiffert Oval
When: Sunday, 10am
AT the start of the season, Queanbeyan Kangaroos under-18s coach Jack Giddings wasn’t even sure if his services would be required.
Struggling for numbers and with the club having endured a dire under-18s campaign last season, Giddings had his work cut for him simply to get a side on the paddock.
“It certainly wasn’t easy getting a team together,” Giddings said.
“With my manager Peter Sullivan and the help of Leigh Kiely and Janelle Bergkotte from the club we got names and addresses and phone numbers of potential recruits and just started ringing around.
“We started off with a small group of about eight or 10 players in the early days but we eventually got a side together and they’ve turned out to be a pretty handy squad.”
And on Sunday, the Kangaroos will have the opportunity to cap what has proved a remarkable turnaround this season when they take on the Gungahlin Bulls in the under-18s division two grand final.
The Roos will head into the clash with plenty of confidence having seen off their grand final opponents 34-26 in the semi-finals just two weeks ago.
But with all three matches between the two sides this year having proved closely-fought contests, Giddings said there had been little to separate the two teams all season.
“We’re going to have to work hard on our edges because they’ve got a couple of good centres who’ve given us trouble whenever we’ve played them,” he said.
While Gidding said it was no secret the Kangaroos would look to use their strength through the middle to overrun the Bulls pack, the young Roos will also be able to boast plenty of strike power in the backline.
Giddings will be able to call on the services of the competition’s top point-scorer and joint best and fairest in centre Simi Latu, while he also reserved particular praise for captain and five-eighth Brendan Baxter.
“Brendan’s been outstanding for us,” Giddings said. “He’s got a cool head and he works well with the referees which really does help because a few of our boys are pretty fiery.”