After finishing third on the table and winning seven of their eight games, the Newcastle Knights Harold Matthews team prepares for their first finals match against the Sharks on Saturday.
Harold Matthews coach Mark Morrisey is thrilled with his team’s progress throughout the 2016 season and expects the side to rise to the occasion of juniors finals football.
“I think it is going to be very fast,” he predicts about Saturday’s match.
“They have some big forwards, so if we can control the speed of their ruck and go set for set with no errors, then they will get rewards at the back end of the game.”
Morrisey say’s the Harold Matthew’s spot in the finals comes off the back of plenty of hard work.
“They have been a great bunch of kids that have gelled together from November thorough to now,” he said.
“They have got out what they have put into it.
"We have been training three days a week and these kids are only meant to be on the field for an hour but they are there for nearly two hours and they are not getting bored, they come to do extras.”
He has enjoyed witnessing the young players develop since the season’s start.
“I just thing their teamwork and core skills have excelled on the back of their development through their training sessions, video and planning,” he said.
“I haven’t seen a Harold Matts team this year have so much push support around the football.”
One of the reason’s Morrisey thinks so much talent had emerged from his side is the fact there’s healthy competition for spots.
“When there is so much talent in this football side, everyone is competing for every spot,” he said.
“They all have to earn the right to play each week which is what makes a healthy football side.
“A lot of them have overcome adversity at not being picked in a side, which is a big thing at that age.
“We talk about being resilient and I see kids who take it on board when they miss out each week, then they train harder to get into the side.
Many of the young players also have sights set on progressing to the highest level of rugby league.
"I talk to the kids about how close It can be and that maybe not next year, but the year after, they could be running on the park with their childhood heros," he said.
"They have really bought into everything we have tried to instill in them."
Morrisey acknowledged the many people who have supported the team throughout the season including the Club’s coaching and medical staff, volunteers and the players’ parents.
“It has been a massive achievement for everyone involved in the juniors system,” he concluded.
The Harold Matthews Newcastle Knights take on the Sharks on Saturday April 16 2016 at St Marys Stadium at 1pm.