“No one in Newcastle will tip us to win.”
They are the thoughts of Macquarie coach Adam Bettridge ahead of the Scorpions’ grand final date with premiership favourites Western Suburbs at McDonald Jones Stadium on Saturday.
And many of his Newcastle Rugby League coaching counterparts have echoed those sentiments this week.
“Wests are very hard to tip against,” Lakes’ Dean Noonan said.
Central’s Craig Miller agreed, “Wests have too many guns”.
Experience was the reason cited by South Newcastle’s Ben Cross and clinical was the word used by Kurri Kurri’s Ron Griffiths, both pointing towards the Rosellas.
And with a dominant minor premiership, regular season points differential of 320 and a 35-8 victory over the same opponents less than a fortnight ago – it’s hard to argue that Wests are the popular choice to take out the 2017 decider.
But coach Bettridge doesn’t seem to mind at all.
“We know we’re a very outside chance and we go in as underdogs,” Bettridge said.
“But we’re there.”
However, Wests coach Matt Lantry wasn’t having any of that.
“We won’t be buying into any talk of who’s favourites or who’s got the underdog tag,” Lantry said.
“We know internally they give themselves a massive chance as stated in a recent social media post.
“They’ll come to do a job and we’ll be ready for what they throw at us.”
Outgoing Cessnock coach Steve Kidd was a bit more torn between the sides.
“Wests by seven because they are very hard to break down defensively and have no real injury concerns,” Kidd said.
“Toronto not without hope though on a dry, hot day. If they can build some pressure they have the players to ask some questions.
“Should be a cracker.”
Player wise Bettridge said he will welcome back centre Royce Geoffrey (ankle) and utility Nathan Hinton (overseas), who both missed Sunday’s 60-0 preliminary final thumping of Central Newcastle at Townson Oval.
He hopes to finalise his side by Thursday night.
“Royce was only out for one week so he’ll be back and you’ll see Nathan return as well,” Bettridge said.
“Obviously we’ve got a few selection headaches but that’s a good thing to have at this time of year.”
Lantry has the full compliment available and will take an unchanged line-up from the major semi-final on September 10.
“As we played Macquarie a fortnight ago is how we will line up,” Lantry said.
“Someone might jump into the starting side from the bench but that’s about it.”
First Grade: Western Suburbs v Macquarie (3pm)
Reserve Grade: South Newcastle v Western Suburbs (1:10pm)
Under 19s: Lakes v Cessnock (11:45am)
Ladies League Tag: South Newcastle v Central Newcastle (10:30am)