Josh back in running for Saints
By BRAD GREENSHIELDS
IT might be six weeks since Sawtell ruckman Josh Edwards last played for the Saints but don't expect him to run out of puff tomorrow in the AFL North Coast Preliminary Final.
"I haven't stopped running the whole time, it's been constant run, run, run," he said.
"It gets a bit boring after a while doing runs and sprints while you see your mates kicking the footy but you've got to do it, you've got to stay fit."
Returning from a broken finger that required a couple of pins to be inserted into it, Edwards, along with his band of brothers at Sawtell, take on minor premiers Port Macquarie tomorrow at the International Stadium for a spot in next week's grand final against the Swans.
These two teams met in the same final last year and on that occasion the Saints were successful by 55 points over the Magpies.
The physical education teacher at Toormina High is confident that another grand final appearance awaits his team.
"We won't flog them but we'll beat them, it'll be a tough encounter like it always is against them," Edwards said. "I thought the game last week was pretty soft, there wasn't a lot of hard ball gets, it was all kick to space then kick to space and I think we're probably one of the hardest and toughest sides in the league, we're going in after that hard ball all the time."
Hardness at the ball is something that Sawtell prides itself on, particularly under the watchful eye of coach Russ Matthews who is a well-known hard nut.
Edwards, though, believes that the 'get the ball at all costs' attitude that the club possesses stems from days when the Saints weren't so successful.
"I think it's a bit of a culture with us and I think it comes from when the club was struggling for those years," the 27-year-old said.
"They had to be hard at the footy otherwise you don't get the footy and if you're not prepared to do the ground work, you can't get into it."
The former Hay footballer will need to work hard tomorrow in his ruck battle with key Magpie Jon Stephens if the Saints are to be successful.
Edwards thinks that his partnership with fellow talls Courtney Tune and Tristan McCormack may be the secret to curbing the giant Magpie's influence on the match.
"I thought we pretty well contained him the last game they played up here against us, he didn't really run amok too much," he said. "Down at the mud puddle we played on down there, he didn't do a lot, I thought Courtney (Tune) took him out of the game completely. Against the Swans last week he drifted down forward and he didn't do a lot. He's a key, though, as John is a class act all the way."
Come the opening bounce tomorrow, don't be surprised to see Edwards play like a man possessed.
"I can't wait to get back on the paddock," he enthused. "It's been pretty hard running the water every week, it's pretty tough not to be out there." n Full preview: Page 29.