Post by Kevin Braysher
NEVER before has a Burleigh Bears team won the FOGS Colts premiership, but on Sunday they will start favourites against the Redcliffe Dolphins when they run out at Suncorp Stadium.
It has been a remarkable year for the young Bears who have dropped just three games all season.
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They finished the regular season as runaway minor premiers and knocked over Redcliffe 26-12 in the major semi-final to qualify for Sunday’s decider.
It’s a remarkable turnaround considering just two years ago the Bears Colts won three games in the entire season.
Colts coach Robert Campbell said the turnaround has come on the back of mental toughness and hard work.
“Last year we started with two wins in 11 games,” he said.
“Hard work wasn’t there. It wasn’t instilled in them. If you want to achieve things you have to work really, really hard for it. They’ve gotten better as players and they’ve done it by not cutting corners.
“The boys love the idea of being history makers. We don’t have to rely on anybody else to fall over in order for us to do it; it’s in our hands. If we want to make history, we can make history.”
In addition to possibly making history, one of the most exciting things about Sunday’s game for the players is the venue.
Suncorp Stadium is the pinnacle of rugby league in Queensland if not the country and the opportunity to play there, especially in a grand final, doesn’t come along very often.
“That two minute bell in the big stadiums, it’s like a Gallipoli whistle,” Campbell said.
“You hear that and you know it’s time. As soon you hear that bell, all bets are off and it’s time to go. It’s totally different playing a grand final in the big stadiums compared to a suburban ground.”
The Bears and Redcliffe have met on three occasions this year with Burleigh picking up two wins.
Back in round one the Dolphins scored a 38-16 win, but the Bears struck back with a 34-20 win in round 23 in addition to their semi-final triumph two weeks ago.
Campbell, a former Dolphin, has plenty of respect for the Redcliffe side, but feels his men are ready for the task at hand.
“No doubt their forwards are their strength. They’ve got some big boppas in their side,” he said.
“That’s what they’ll do. They’ll try to beat us up the middle, try and get quick play-the-balls and try to play off the back of that.
“If they can get dominance there, that’s when the six and the seven start throwing dummies and they get dangerous.”
Campbell said his side’s attitude is that they expect to win, but regardless of the result on Sunday he believes the future of the club is in good hands.
In both his time at Brisbane Wests and Redcliffe he witnessed a wave of young talent come through the Colts and carry the club to senior success in the years that followed. Campbell believes Burleigh could be on a similar path.
“I think this could be the start of something really big for Burleigh,” he said.
“If they win on the weekend it will give them a spring in their step for a long time knowing they can get the job done on the big stage. If they can get this win out of the way, it could set the course for Burleigh for years to come.”
Campbell also heaped praise on the work of his assistant coaches Matt Foster and Darryl Fisher, whose meticulous approach to preparation and review has been a key factor in the side’s success.
The FOGS Colts grand final kicks off at 11:45am this Sunday at Suncorp Stadium.
Burleigh Bears: 1. Jayden Connors 2. Michael Wheeler 3. Brett Stratton 4. Rhys Duke 5. Scott Purvis 6. Sam Grant 7. Daniel Schwass (c) 8. Jake Hughes 9. Carne Rhodes 10. Tyler Sparkes 11. Josh Berkers 12. Hayden Schwass 13. Marino Allen 14. Talor Walters 15. Shem Vaoa 16. Jarrod Ross 17. Tim Wolens 18. Sam Swift
Coach: Robert Campbell