Young Cessnock Goannas leader Reed Hugo is learning on the job from the best

When you are asked to deputise for the man your coach regards as the best captain he has had, it's a fair endorsement of your worth to your side and the esteem you are held in.

It's an honour Cessnock back-rower and stand in captain Reed Hugo has cherished but he is glad he will run out behind regular skipper Steve Waetford in Sunday's grand final against Western Suburbs at McDonald Jones Stadium.

"I'm just helping Stevey out," the modest 23-year-old said of his role.

"He is an awesome leader, just having him out there is massive for us. Since having him back he has been a massive influence in getting us to the finals.

"When Steve missed a chunk of games in the middle of the year Todd handed the captaincy over to me. Now he is back Stevey starts and when he goes off I take over from him.

"He leads you around the park. He knows how to speak to each individual player, knows how to get us up.

"It was a massive honour to be included in the leadership, I just try to go out there and do my job."

Hugo said the 57-0 hammering by Wests had been a turning point for the club.

"It has been a massive effort but we always knew we had a good side and that we could go all the way," he said of the Goannas run of four wins which has taken them to the grand final.

"We've got a lot of good players in our team, no real superstars, so it was always about team effort for us to succeed.

"After that Wests game probably a few boys got a few feathers ruffled, they got a bit of shake-up and realised that we had to come together as a group and work hard to achieve success.

"Obviously since then we've won four on the trot and it's been a pretty good run."

The winning sequence started with an 18-14 win against South Newcastle at Townson Oval which enabled Cessnock to squeeze into the top five ahead of Kurri.

What followed has been nothing short of a transformation starting with a 14-10 win over Maitland at Maitland, 32-28 over Souths at Cessnock and a 34-8 win against Central Newcastle at St Johns Oval.

"We hadn't beaten Central all year, the same with Maitland and Souths, but we got the wins" Hugo said.

"Once we realised what we could do we all jumped on board and it's been awesome.

"It's a massive challenge this weekend but we'll just keep doing what we've been doing. We'll just play the football we've been playing for the last four or five weeks."