Hawks coach: 'Our finals start this week'
Aussie rules: After languishing at the bottom of the ladder last season, Brad Best said his team laughed when he spoke about finals football. But now, the belief of the Mackay City Hawks is back.
The brown and gold unit have sneaked up on the competition's front runners, and sit just a win outside the top four. From here on out, the City mentor said it was do or die for his contingent. Their finals start now.
"I couldn't be prouder really, but at the end of the day our job is not done,” Best said.
"I know a few of the guys laughed and thought I was crazy when I talked about finals. But now it's in our sights and we've given ourselves every chance.
"We believe our best footy can be competitive with most sides. It's just a matter of not getting ahead of ourselves. I know it's an old cliche - one week at a time - but it is for us.”
A win for the Hawks would launch them into finals calculations. A loss will likely have them planning for next season.
They are braced for a vibrant crowd when they take on Bakers Creek today at Etwell Park.
The last time the two teams clashed, the Hawks came away with a 13.14-92 to 8.5-53 win at Harrup Park.
But Best is anticipating a contest of greater emotion.
The Tigers will be celebrating their premiership reunion, and club legends of premierships past are expected to feature among the supporters.
Best is under no illusions - the reception awaiting them will be hostile.
But he said experience had taught him crowds, regardless of who they stood behind, fuelled a more motivated performance on the field.
"It's going to be hostile and fiery, but it's as close a finals game as possible for both clubs,” Best said.
"It's just about playing our brand of footy. You've got to try and silence the crowd as much as possible and the only way to do that is scoreboard pressure.
"The way we have gone about our last six or seven weeks of footy has been pretty competitive, so we know we need to turn up with the right frame of mind.”
Given where City have come from, after a disappointing 2018 campaign, Best said they had relished being the underdogs in recent weeks.
"I don't think too many sides are looking over their shoulder at us, which is what I like,” Best said.
"Once you do make finals everyone is a chance and I think we know that. (But) it's about re-setting after each game - you can't rest on your laurels.”
The first bounce will be at 3pm today.