Kurri Kurri Bulldogs have re-signed coach Ron Griffiths for 2019 ahead of Saturday's must-win final round game against the Maitland Pickers.
It promises to be a huge day at Kurri Kurri Sportsground with Old Boys Days and the chance for the Bulldogs to secure a spot in the finals.
The Bulldogs will wear a special jersey, which features the names of the club’s life members, who will form a guard of honour for the team as they run out for the game.
Club president Daryl Chapman said it was great to finalise the coaching appointment ahead of the crucial game.
“I talked to all the players and they are quite happy with our coach and we have decided to reappoint Ron Griffiths for his third year,” Chapman said on a livestream announcement.
“It makes it easier for the next three or four weeks as we go on to the grand final.”
Kurri Kurri kept their finals hopes alive with a memorable 19-12 win against Western Suburbs at Harker Oval on Sunday, their first at the ground in decades including their dominant premiership hat-trick from 1993-95.
They must beat Maitland on Saturday to ensure a finals berth or rely on Wests losing to Macqaurie Scorpions at Lyle Peacock Oval on Saturday.
Griffith said he was delighted to be reappointed Bulldogs coach.
“I think it’s a vote of confidence in not only myself but the team that have been around there from the back end of 2016 and 2017 when we took over,” he said.
“It’s a team we’ve slowly built on in terms of our staff. I think it is a team effort for me to be reappointed.
“We’ve taken a holistic approach with everyone having ownership of their role at the club.”
Griffiths said the team was looking forward to Saturday with the life members to form a guard of honour before the game.
“Old Boys Day is always fantastic but to have our life members there is really special. They are what the club is built on, our foundation of hard work. It’s exactly how we’ve played all year.
“We’ve continually worked hard for each other.”
Griffiths said it would have been nice to have secured their spot in the finals before the last round, but having to win against a Coalfields rival did heighten the excitement.
“It would be nice to be sitting a little higher on the ladder and not having to worry about those things,” he said.
“But we take everything in our stride.
“Things haven’t always gone our way but they continually give the same effort. They understand the process and what they’re about and stick to it.
“Even when the club is not travelling so well from a winning percentage point of view, as long as the team are willing to put in an effort they will get a great crowd.
“The boys lift for it, we’ve got a bunch of supporters that every other club wants, they’re fantastic.”
Griffiths said the Bulldogs’ 42-6 loss to the Pickers in round eight was not of concern going into Saturday’s game.
“We’ve had one off day and that was against Maitland. Full credit to them they were able to take advantage of that, but I don’t think we’ll have that sort of off-day again – they are once a year type days,” he said.
“Apart from Maitland, I think that every single game we’ve played in we’ve been there abouts. We might not have won some games, but we certainly competed for long periods of time.
“I’m sure this weekend it will be a different outfit from our point of view in terms of our combined effort right across the park.”
Griffith said a repeat of the last Saturday’s effort would go a long way to securing a win.
The Bulldogs held Wests scoreless in the second half to run out 19-12 winners and keep their finals hopes alive.
The Bulldogs, who had run into the wind, trailed 12-0 at half-time but led by a man of the match performance by Mitch Cullen were able to get the points against a tiring Wests at Harker Oval.
Barry McGrady continued his fine late season form scoring a try.