THE crickets in the Albury Thunder changerooms could well be making more noise than coach Josh Cale before tomorrow’s second semi-final against Gundagai at Greenfield Park.
Cale shouldn’t have to mutter a word.
The incentive to win could hardly be greater with Albury chasing its first Group 9 grand final appearance and at the same time the chance to rid the demons of last year’s semi-final disaster.
Not to mention extracting revenge on the Tigers after they blemished their unbeaten record at Anzac Park just a fortnight ago.
Cale is tired of words, he wants action.
“Everyone is back and we’re full strength,” Cale said yesterday.
“I guess having a loss to Gundagai has made us work that little bit harder.
“We have a bit of a sour taste in our mouth and it’s good to play the side that beat us.”
While Cale says last year’s finals loss to Cootamundra hasn’t been a major topic of discussion in the lead-up to the match, he admits it’s a game he would rather forget.
The Thunder were thumped 22-0 by Grant Boyd’s Bulldogs after promising so much in the home and away series.
“It’s in the back of your mind I guess, especially in my mind,” he said.
“Maybe not so much with the boys, though, as we have a lot of new players in the side.
“We touched on it at the start of the year but that’s as far as it goes.”
Albury has a new-look side with Ben Jeffery, Matt Rose, Mitch Davis, Willie Heta and Mark Walsham adding quality and, more importantly, the point-scoring ability missing last year.
Gundagai has it own mental demons after faltering in the 2003, 2004, 2006, 2009 and 2011 grand finals.
The Tigers last saluted in 1983.
Cale is under no illusions about the enormity of the challenge ahead.
“Gundagai deserve where they are on the ladder,” he said.
“They justified their spot by beating Young last week and I think it’s going to be a massive test.”
Willie and Henry Heta are ready for tomorrow’s finals showdown. Picture: DAVID THORPE
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