Launceston looks to have found its best form at the right time of the season, overcoming the Tigers and Glenorchy in consecutive finals weeks to book a Preliminary Final showdown with Lauderdale at Blundstone Arena.
Blues coach Mitch Thorp fielded questions from the media on Thursday ahead of the big clash.
How are you feeling ahead of the Preliminary Final?
“Realy excited. Obviously with a young group there is lots of enthusiasm around. Having won two finals, we are trying to keep the momentum going.”
What will be the key to defeat Lauderdale?
“The ability to shift gears. Last weekend was obviously a really wet match and this weekend will be really dry, fast and in warm conditions so it will be a fast game and we will need to adjust accordingly.”
You had a few players pull up a bit sore from last weekend’s win, how are they tracking?
“Those guys have recovered well. We will only have the one change with Jack Donnellan coming in for Toby Lucas. Toby’s head knock was pretty severe and he won’t play again this weekend.”
What do you take out of Lauderdale’s Semi Final loss to North Launceston?
“We took out that North Launceston are a very good side… they are very difficult to beat.
“We obviously watched Lauderdale really closely but we have played them three times already so we are aware of who plays where and the roles certain players have. There aren’t many secrets between the two clubs so we are getting excited for the contest and have no doubt that it will be a hot game in and around the ball.”
What would it mean to take this club into a Grand Final?
“It would be pretty significant. To have won two finals and make a Preliminary Final is significant in itself, but now we are here we want to make sure we knuckle down and focus on the task at hand and not worry about the week after. We just need to focus on Lauderdale this week and what that presents.”
How proud are you of what your team has been able to achieve?
“There has been a lot of hard work go in since November, and the boys, to their credit, have been extremely coachable and really determined to make this season a positive one. As I said, now that we are in a Prelim we are really desperate to start this game well and hopefully come away with a win and make it into a Grand Final.”
Lauderdale are known as being a pretty physical side. Is that something you have spoken about, as to how you will go about managing that?
“I think our guys relish that sort of football. Our guys around the ball are really big and strong and mature and enjoy that style of game. We have no doubt that that will again be the case next week.”
Do you expect Lauderdale to have any mental scarring from last weekend’s loss, or do you expect them to come out firing?
“I’m not sure. They have been a pretty resilient side over the last few seasons and have obviously played off in the last two Grand Finals. They know what it takes to get to that final game and are going to be super motivated, as are we. I think all of that is going to lead into a cracking contest around the ball with two midfields that are strong and aggressive; that should be a good spectacle.”
Have you been surprised by this group’s ability to stay level-headed in pressure situations?
“Not really, externally there was a lot of noise about how many senior players we had lost and about me coming in as coach. Internally the boys have been rock solid since day one and Jobi (Harper) and Jay (Blackberry) have led that as captains of the football club through the standards they’ve set and the way they have attacked their footy. Those things have helped our younger players stay calm in pressure situations, and I don’t expect anything to change this weekend.”
How big of a part do you think form plays at this time of the year?
“Lauderdale have only won once in the last six games but I don’t know if that will have a bearing on the contest. It is going to be a Prelim where there is going to be a lot of pressure and a lot of critical, key moments. As long as we can try and win as many of those critical, key moments, that will hold us in good stead.
“Finals footy is a bit different and it’s great that over the last two weeks our boys have been able to experience a really good day here at Windsor Park against the Tigers in sunshine and an inclement day last week against Glenorchy and found two different ways to win.”
Lauderdale v Launceston – Blundstone Arena, 2:00pm Saturday 14 September 2019