Rugby sides around the country would give anything to have a former Wallaby pass on tips and advice leading into a grand final.
The words from someone of that ilk is priceless before the biggest game of the year and luckily for the Wellington Redbacks, they’ve got a former great right on their doorstep.
In the lead-up to this weekend’s GrainCorp Cup Northern Division decider against the Geurie Goats, the Redbacks’ front three spent some time with Wellington local and former Australian representative, Jon White.
After a career which included 24 tests for the Wallabies and the label of the best front rower in the world at one stage, White returned to his home region of Wellington and now, aged 83, he still keeps a keen eye on the Redbacks.
After the Redbacks downed Molong in Saturday’s preliminary final, forwards Michael and Brad Thomas, and Simon Baxter caught up with the former Wallaby at his Wellington home.
“Even when I was running around 20 or 25 years ago he was taking an interest,” Redbacks coach Greg ‘Snow’ Brien said.
There’s no pressure on us, the Goats have all the pressure on them.Redbacks coach Greg Brien
“You can’t knock it, he didn’t play for the Wallabies for no reason and you listen if he’s got some advice or encouragement. To draw on that knowledge is great. If he can give any insight, it helps.”
The Wellington forwards are certain to have their hands full in this weekend’s grand final against the undefeated Goats.
Brien is all too aware his side is massive underdogs for the clash but there’s something about the Redbacks’ recent form and the feeling within the club and town which fills him with hope.
There’s no love lost between Wellington and Geurie but the coach, who has helped change the fortunes of the club after a seventh-placed finish last year, said his side can play a relaxed game in the decider.
“There’s no pressure on us, the Goats have all the pressure on them,” he said.
“I know there was a story saying they were the big dogs of the central west but we’re in the big dance and hopefully we can come home with the chocolates.”
Brien said the “mateship” and “trust” within the Redbacks side is another thing working in its favour.
“Everyone is confident in each other’s defensive ability,” he said.
Saturday’s grand final at Geurie Showground kicks off at 3.15pm.