Eels mentor Albert Nicholas will be stepping down from the role after a glorious run and will hope for a fairytale finish to his colourful coaching career.
For Bulldogs’ Meti Noovao, this will be his opportunity to land his first premier league title as their coach.
After the interview and photo session at Vonnia’s yesterday, the two exchanged brief pleasantries, wishing each other the best.
Today, they will be all-out in their bid to guide their teams to victory at the BCI Stadium in Nikao.
“I would like to finish on a high but it’s not about me, it’s about the club and the village, I’m just a small part of a much bigger picture so to speak,” said Nicholas, who guided the Eels to a clean sweep last year.
“If the powers that be allow me to go out on a high so be it and if they don’t, it’s still going to be my last year. It’s time for me to step aside and give opportunity for others in the club who I feel are ready to step up to the task.”
The Bulldogs last won in 2012 and Noovao was the skipper of that side. In 2015, he had the chance to win his maiden title as coach, but lost to the Eels in a close battle.
Noovao hopes this will be their year. “The pressure is on both teams and coaches, but it’s how we handle it and it all comes down to playing the smartest football,” he said.
“It’s quite challenging being a coach, but I’m enjoying it. I’m still a beginner and have a lot of respect for Albert. He is a great role model to the country in what he has achieved in the game of rugby league and other things.”
When it came to Nicholas, he also had something good to say about his counterpart.
“There is no doubt it’s going to be a hard game. Bulldogs are on a high and deservedly so and I think their coach Meti has guided them well through the season. With the calibre of players they have, I’m expecting them to come to play.”
“As a coach I can do so much in preparing them physically and mentally, at the end of the day when they take that field, and I believe the same goes to the Bulldogs, it’s the team that want it the most will get it.”
Noovao said it was all about minimising mistakes, taking opportunities and making them count.
Bulldogs and Eels have met three times this season, with the former winning twice. This will be the one that will matter the most.
The premier final will kick off at 4.30pm. Entry fee is $5 for adults and $2 for children.
Fixtures: 11.15am U11 Eels-Sea Eagles (Ref: Dawn), 11.15am U11 Bears-Panthers (Ref: Jeff), 11.45am U13 Sea Eagles-Eels (Ref: Jeff), 12.30pm U17 Sharks-Sea Eagles (Ref: William Taripo, Dawn/A Nanai), 1.30pm U19 Bulldogs-Bears (Ref: Paul Allsworth, Line: P Robertson/A Nanai), 3pm Reserves Eels-Sea Eagles (Poso Ngaroi, Line: P Peyroux/K Kopu), 4.30pm Premiers Bulldogs-Eels (Ref: Rochelle Tamarua, Lines: T Manea/N.Takaiti, Sub: Pio/Bish).