NSW Cup Newcastle Knights forward Damien Sironen can provide valuable insight into State Championship opponent, the Ipswich Jets after a stint playing in the Queensland Cup.
Sironen joined the ranks of the red and blue at the beginning of July and has contributed to the impressive finals campaign that saw the team claim the coveted NSW Cup premiership last weekend.
Just days away from the hit out, the Knights have put a magnifying glass on the Jets in order to prepare for the unconventional style of football they’re beginning to be known for.
“They just play a really expansive brand of football,’ Sironen said.
“Some things that come off for them don’t come off for anyone else.
“I have played them three or four times in my year and a half up there and we beat them a couple of times and they beat us a couple of times.”
Yet the Knights have prepared to expect the unexpected from their challenging opponent and have strong belief in their own ability and unique strength.
“If we just play our brand of football, the game will take care of itself,’ he added.
Queensland will be heavily represented in Sunday's grand final game day with the Jets joining NRL premiership contenders the North Queensland Cowboys and Brisbane Broncos on the big stage of ANZ Stadium.
But that’s no concern for Sironen or his teammates who are proud and determined to represent Newcastle and their State well.
“I came from the Queensland comp, but I actually grew up in NSW all my life and have been South of the border so feel more at home in NSW then up there anyway,’ he said.
“Matty Lantry asked me a few questions on them.
“It’s such a weird game of footy they play, there’s not a lot you can do, you just have to focus on your own game.
“The way we have played in the last month, I don’t think anyone up there and down here could beat us.
Spirits have been high among the reserve grade Knights this week as the side focuses on maintaining the momentum it's built during more than a month of sudden-death football.
“We had a pretty light week and the first couple of days off and I think that was good for us because that grand final was so taxing on a lot of guys,’ he said.
“We had three or four blokes that looked like they may not play this weekend, but they look like they are going to be fine.
“I think having a bit of a celebration and rest at the start of the week and ripping in these last couple of days, the intensity will be right back up there.”
Sironen describes Sunday’s game as a once-in-a-life-time opportunity and is thrilled experience competition’s biggest occasion.
“I just think it will be the experience of being out there. Some guys spend their career in NRL and never get to step out there on that day,’ he said.
“We’re lucky enough to be out there and experience a grand final and the atmosphere.
“By the end of the second half there’s going to be 40-50,0000 people there.
They’re all going to be screaming for Queensland but we’re still going to be happy to be there.”