Firstly, I’d like to extend a warm welcome to the Cobras players, fans, friends and family members in attendance this afternoon. The Grand Final is the culmination of a highly successful season and I can’t think of a better venue than the National Rugby Centre here in Amsterdam.
This season has been hotly contested and marks a huge step up in standard from previous seasons. A misconception about the NRLB competition has been that, due to its small size, it can be viewed as an easy form of competition. In fact, the structure adds an extra level of pressure to the players, as every game truly counts and the margin for error is slim.
We were well aware of this after our round one defeat to Rotterdam. Hard questions were asked and backs put against the wall for the remainder of the season. It could have been easy to become despondent in such a situation, but it speaks volumes of the character of the lads to have responded how they did and be playing for the Championship today. Rugby is about honesty and decision making: the team has adopted this approach and the results speak for themselves.
The Cobras have come a long way over the course of this season and even more so over the last twelve months. When I joined last year, we had only won just one game previously and were in a difficult spot. To respond to that situation by taking the title is nothing short of outstanding and was achieved by hard work, grit and commitment.
Last year’s success came as a surprise to many and each win was met with a feeling of surprise in the team. This year it’s been different: our approach to training has been more professional and there are minimum standards for everyone to achieve.
A huge amount of credit must be given to our coach, Dr David Lipman, a guy who loves his footy but has a deeper understanding of the game that is rarely seen. Whether players are Dutch national team shoe-ins or complete novices, the progression within the team has been terrific, and this comes down to his influence.
Naturally, I’m gutted I won’t be out there with this afternoon but have no worries. Every player is replaceable and I’ve every confidence in the lads this afternoon. No one is irreplaceable, especially a captain.
Finally, a massive thanks to AAC for allowing us to host the final – hopefully the first of many!
Enjoy the game and Yeah the Boys!