CHRIS Osborne has no idea how many rugby league grand finals he has played in since first lacing up his boots as a junior, but he says that this Sunday will certainly be his last.
Osborne will captain-coach the first division St Pat’s outfit in this Sunday’s Group 10 grand final against the Bathurst Panthers at Sid Kallas Oval.
He would love to mark his last local derby by hoisting the premiership trophy aloft and do it alongside others who have played countless games in the blue and white.
Players such as Trent Hemsworth, Mark Elliott, Brent Dennis and Matt Tilley.
“I might sound like John Farnham, but this is definitely it,” the now 40-year-old said.
“Blokes like Trent and Ripples [Elliott], we all started around the same time with St Pat’s. We’re not from Bathurst, Ripples and Trent came down to go to university.
“Then we’ve got blokes like Brent Dennis, who played all his juniors with St Pat’s, we’ve played together for years. So it’s been awesome this year.
“I asked those blokes to help me out, to come back and have a run, and I appreciate the blokes coming back to help me. Guys like Tilley, he’s a good club man and travels up from Wollongong to play with us. He’s another one who just wants to play with mates to finish off with and have a good time.
“We are out there having a bit of fun and we are trying to win as well.”
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While the Saints have struggled at times this year with numbers – they’ve played matches with no fresh reserves – they have won games.
They were victorious 12 times during the regular season to finish second in the minor premiership, beat Panthers 18-16 in the qualifying final then downed Orange Hawks 14-6 in the first grand final qualifier.
Trying to beat Panthers again – an outfit they split their regular season fixtures with one win apiece – will not be an easy task for Osborne and his men.
He has plenty of respect for his rivals and feels the key to victory will be maintaining a consistent effort.
“We can play well for 10 minutes, but our next 10 can be shocking – it’s typical reserve grade footy, the consistency is not there all the time. We’ve just got to be good with our attitude,” he said.
“Wanting to do the little things like make your tackle, make that extra effort to jump on the ball that’s on the ground, getting up off the line. We need that footy knowledge to kick in and make sure we are there for our team-mates.
“We are not that fast, so we have to play smarter.”
Kick-off in Sunday’s grand final against Panthers is 1pm.