You know the drill by now; This week sees the biggest game in Roughnecks history with the NFC 2 Final against the Chester Romans. We sat down with each of the coaches this week to bring you their opinion on where the team stands heading into the game, and how they view the success of the 2018 season so far. Finally for the coaches we have Special Teams Co-ordinator, George Pirie:
FIRSTLY, HOW ARE YOU FEELING AHEAD OF SATURDAY?
Going into the final as the #1 seed I’m heading into Saturday with confidence that if we play to the best of our ability that we will come out with the win. However we know that Chester will not be easy opponents by any means and that we’re in for a tough physical game of football come Saturday.
ARE YOU SURPRISED AT HOW FAR THE TEAM HAS GONE THIS SEASON?
Honestly not really. It’s something that we’ve been determined to get to from the beginning of the season. Once we started training in January I could tell that there was something different about this team in comparison to roughnecks teams of the past and the goal has always been to get to the final but not to get ahead of ourselves. Setting ourselves mini goals along the way, finishing 8-0, winning our first playoff game and gaining promotion and now winning the bowl.
WHAT WAS THE MOST IMPORTANT CHANGE YOU FEEL YOU MADE THIS SEASON?
From a ST point of view more consistent special teams practice sessions have been pivotal to our successes on that side of the ball. Going from practicing ST once every other week to some weeks working on that side of the ball twice a week. This is what I believe has been key to us improving in many key ST stats.
WHO, SO FAR, HAVE BEEN THE STARS ON YOUR Special Teams Units?
All 11 guys that step out onto the field have been important in one way or another. To name a few though, kicker #4 Stu Don and Holder #44 Grant Travis have great chemistry together and that’s a key part of the reason we went 22/23 on PATs this season - an area we’ve really improved on. Our returners #6 Lewis Hughes, #18 Rhys Elmslie and #22 Gamu Mukuredzi have all played big roles in setting up the offence with better field position and also helping ST in putting up touchdowns for the first time in our history. Within the regular season Diego Esquer had a big role on ST, long snapping, making key tackles on punt and kick offs and even blocking a kick his presence has been missed during this post season.
WHAT WILL BE THE KEY TO THE GAME ON SATURDAY, WHERE WILL THE GAME BE WON AND LOST IN YOUR OPINION?
What the ST unit aims to do is to be disruptive any time we’re defending any kick offs, punts or field goals ensuring we give up minimal points. We also want to win the field position battle giving the offence the shortest field possible to work with and give our D the most space to work with possible. If we can make impact plays on ST and let O and D do their thing that will be key
BEYOND SATURDAY, WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS FOR THE CLUB IN DIVISION 1 NEXT SEASON AND MORE LONG-TERM?
Next season what we need to do is be competitive the one thing we don’t want is to come straight back down. We’ll work on becoming a solid Div 1 team and as long as we’re constantly improving each season we should find ourselves in good stead.