The Burleigh Bears will take on the Newtown Jets in the NRL State Championship decider in Sydney on a high after two of their Intrust Super Cup premiership-winning stars became fathers in the leadup to the decider
Lock Sam Coster and prop Jack Buchanan both became fathers of baby girls, Coster last week and Buchanan on the morning of Burleigh’s 28-10 win over Wynnum-Manly at Dolphin Stadium.
Match: WM Seagulls v Bears
Grand Final -
Venue: Dolphin Stadium, Brisbane
- Nine Network
Coach Jimmy Lenihan was in awe of the duo’s performance after a week where they had their minds on more important things than rugby league. That didn’t stop both of them shining for the Bears.
"Coster had a baby girl earlier this week. Buchanan had four weeks off with injury and played the whole first half last week,” Lenihan said in the Burleigh sheds on Sunday night.
“He then had a baby girl at six o’clock this morning after his partner went into labour on Thursday afternoon.
"Jack then comes out in the grand final and plays the whole first half after not sleeping for three days.
“Both of them haven’t been at training all week, but were outstanding. They are both really good people and I couldn’t be prouder of the place."
The Bears have now won two titles in the space of four seasons under Lenihan. The 2016 season was a turning point for the Bears, and Lenihan said it was on the back of bringing quality people to the club.
"When we won it in 2016, Burleigh hadn’t been in the semi-finals for 12 years and we’d been told we were a rabble and nothing was going to happen," he said.
"In 2015, we had 70 points put on us twice and 60 once. Then we went on from there and won the comp in 2016 after we’d moved on people that we didn’t want.
"That year we got Jamal Fogarty, Pagey (Luke Page), Sami Sauiluma, Pat Politoni, Hayden Schwass and recruited really well. Jamie Dowling also came back to us at that point.
“A lot of those players are still with us, and that group and the people who have come to the club have changed the fabric of the club and how we identify with ourselves."
After beating Redcliffe 26-16 in the 2016 Intrust Super Cup grand final the Bears were thrashed 54-12 by the Illawarra Cutters in the NRL State Championship final.
At the time, the Bears had climbed a mountain and weren’t ready to climb another one after all the club had been through to get to the summit of the Intrust Super Cup competition.
Lenihan said they would be more prepared this time around against Canterbury Cup winners Newtown.
"We were ecstatic after winning the comp in 2016, but we hadn’t even thought about going to Sydney until we were reminded about it after the game," he said.
"This time we certainly want to go down there and make a good account of ourselves. Last time we embarrassed ourselves and we certainly don’t want that to happen again."
The Bears, as a club, have enjoyed a superb season all-round.
"I am very proud. Our A Grade side won their comp [on the Gold Coast]. Our [Hastings Deering] 20s got beaten last week by the Sunshine Coast who went on to win it. Our local 20s team got to the grand final. Our women’s team got to the grand final. We’ve got six senior sides and four of them made it to the grand final," he said.
"We have worked really hard and that starts with (CEO) Damian Driscoll and our board. We have got a lot of good people in charge and we place a lot more value on the people at our club.
"When you get the right people involved you get the right effort that comes from them and it turns up in games like today's grand final when you defend like we did.
"They scored two tries from kicks and one of them was from a ricochet. We have worked hard on our defence.
“Whether it is the best Burleigh has ever had, I don’t know. but we certainly have put a lot into it."
Match: Jets v Bears
NRL State Championship -
Venue: ANZ Stadium, Sydney
- Nine Network
- LIVE PASS