By Peter Rowe
North Beach Sea Eagles coach Phil Douche has kept his distance this week with a heavy cold as his side prepares for their big NRLWA Fuel to Play and Go semifinal clash with minor premiers Fremantle Roosters.
“The last thing I want to do is to pass it on to the lads,” Douche said. “We need to be firing on all cylinders on Saturday.
“Fremantle are a very good side, they execute superbly and it’s always a challenge when playing them.”
The Sea Eagles coach has an interesting selection dilemma – with his early season regular halves Jeremy Wallace and Kade McDonald both back in training and ready to play.
Both players have spent over a month sidelined with injury with Douche admitting he won’t make a decision until before kickoff.
“It’s great to have them both back and they trained well this week. We’ve got a pretty strong side, with only Tyron Cranston away working.”
Douche said he had watched Fremantle’s game video from last week’s victory over Rockingham and had spotted a few things.
“We’re looking forward to playing them with the chance to go straight to the grand final, but we know how good they are, so like I said, it’s a big challenge.
The Roosters know how dangerous their opponents can be and have trained three days this week preparing for the game.
“At this time of year it gets serious and we want to be at our best across the field – we want that week off before the grand final,” an excited captain Duane Butler said.
“I always get nervous when finals start, but I know we have a full strength side, Joey (Po’uhlia) and Regy (Manu) are back, and we’ll be ready.
“It’s finals, who wouldn’t be excited?”
A few clicks up the Kwinana Freeway excitement is also growing as the South Perth Lions host the Joondalup Giants in a do-or-die third v fourth semi.
Both teams have been concentrating on defence during the week, knowing that this game could go either way.
“We know we have to be at our best to beat them,” team manager Paul Brown said.
“If we can keep the opposition to 12 to 16 points we can win.”
Lions legend Eddie Proudler will be key for the home side – his kicking game crucial, but there are 12 other players on the field and Brown said the squad has trained well and is upbeat ahead of the clash at George Burnett Park.
“Josh Adu is probably our only fitness issue, Brown said. “Otherwise it’s a full strength team.”
Giants coach Taurean Sheehan will make a number of changes to last week’s team that lost at North Beach because of work commitments, but has also been concentrating on defence.
“No one has come from fourth to win the comp, but Rockingham showed how it could be done when they came from fourth to make the grand final in 2020, Sheehan said.
“Confidence is high and we know what we have to do to get the job done.
“Where there’s a will there’s a way – and we’re ready for the challenge.”
NRLWA Premiership Semifinals
1st Fremantle Rooster v 2nd North Beach Sea Eagles – Treeby Oval, 3.30pm (winner straight to grand final on Sept 9)
3rd South Perth Lions v 4th Joondalup Giants – George Burnett Oval, 3.30pm (winner to face loser of game 1, loser eliminated)