MAFFRA will attempt to go back-to-back in Gippsland League football, having lined up a grand final rematch with Leongatha on Saturday.
The Eagles finished second on the ladder, one win behind the Hawks, and had to go the long way through the finals, but will be up for the challenge on the day.
Football director George Foggo said the list was unchanged, and said the boys had done well in the run-up.
“It’s just like climbing Mt Everest, it’s a big thing to come up in a grand final, let alone one after the other,” he said.
“You’ve got to show respect to every side, there’s respect for what Leongatha’s achieved — this is their third grand final in a row, and the guys understand that.”
Maffra will need to focus on keeping up with Leongatha’s fast-running side, and controlling contests.
“If you don’t do that you’ll lose by a streak,” Foggo said.
“They’re very good outside runners, they spread well and bring the ball back through the middle, so what you have to do there is cut off supply.”
Foggo noted the club culture had a huge part in shaping the attitude of the players, and paid tribute to coach Wayne Butcher and his army of line coaches and support staff.
“The club itself (is) providing the right environment culturally off-field — I can’t speak highly enough of our training and admin staff, it all does start from there,” he said.
“It’s not bloody easy, you’ve got people that have got the passion for the game, but providing the right environment for the players is paramount, and getting them to play for the club and not for money is hard.
“At the end of the day, if you haven’t got that background right, you’re going to struggle.”
Pointing to players like the league’s top goal kicker Mitch Bennett, captain Sam Pleming, and veterans like Kel Porter and Darren Sheen, Foggo said the balance between new blood and premiership experience would be tough to beat.
Maffra was defeated by Leongatha in the final home-and-away round, but thumped the Parrots by 39 points in round nine.
Last week’s strong preliminary final win over Traralgon was a bit too close for comfort, with the Eagles four points down at three-quarter-time before rebounding to win by 25 points.
The 2016 grand final was similarly close, with Maffra powering away in the final term to overrun Leongatha, something that may be playing in the back of the players’ heads.
Foggo was supremely confident.
“You’ve got to be excited, it’s something to celebrate and to enjoy, it’s a game, but you’ve got a unique opportunity to achieve something,” he said.
“You could achieve something you want to remember for the rest of your life.”
Gippsland League grand final
Saturday at Ted Summerton Reserve, Moe:
Football, seniors: Leongatha v Maffra, 2.20pm; reserves: Leongatha v Morwell, 12.30pm; under 18s: Moe v Traralgon, 10.30am; under 16s: Moe v Traralgon, 8.30am.
Netball, A grade: Drouin v Traralgon, 3pm; B grade: Moe v Leongatha, 1.30pm; C grade: Leongatha v Wonthaggi, 12.15pm; under 17s: Maffra v Traralgon, 11am; under 15s: Leongatha v Wonthaggi, 9.45am; under 13s: Sale v Bairnsdale, 8.30am.