The secret behind Maryborough Bears' success
MARYBOROUGH Bears are just one win from a drought- breaking premiership,
The Bears lost only two games this season, and have the chance to win their first flag since 2000 against Across The Waves.
The secret to the club's success is an old school trick Russell Green introduced in the pre-season. The Bears coach, who was born in Victoria and played for clubs in three states, credits a five-week off-season period with the perfection of his players' skills.
The trick? Swap the Sherrin for a tennis ball.
"When I played in Victoria, the pre-season was done with tennis balls,” Green said. "You ran miles with a tennis ball.
"You knew how to bounce it, how to kick it, it sharpens up your skill - you have to watch that small object onto your foot, and when you get to the bigger ball, which you have too, you know exactly where it is.”
It might sound like an odd practice, but the move has paid dividends.
"This year, we went back to basics,” Green said.
"We trained with tennis balls for five weeks, and they were hanging out to get hold of a football. When they got hold of a football, they're skill improved 100%. We had players who weren't very good kicks that can kick the ball extremely well now.”
Jarrod Stothard and Ben Brown are among the team's hard-working squad.
For Brown, it is his first season since 2008, but the centre said it "felt like yesterday” since his last campaign for the Bears.
Stothard, meanwhile, has been one of the entire competition's stars.
Not only as he helped lead the Bears to the grand final, but, as of the tenth round, was leading the count for the Player of the Year award.
The QFA Wide Bay reserve grade grand final and AFL Wide Bay's junior deciders will be played at Coulthard Oval, Bundaberg.
Award winners will be announced Sunday.