Bundle of nerves
By TONY WHITE
IT's been a nerve-racking week for Jacaranda Hotel Redmen first grade coach Gary Powell.
The affable 31-year-old admits nerves have set in leading up to Saturday's rugby union grand final showdown with Ballina at Oakes Oval, Lismore.
On and off the rugby field Powell's life is crammed with myriad thoughts.
"Yeah, there's the grand final, we're building a new house and Natasha (Powell's wife) is having a baby on Friday," Powell said.
"It's just crazy."
The Powell's latest family addition was not due until the week after the grand final, but doctors at Grafton Hospital have scheduled Natasha for a caesarean on Friday.
"We had a bit of trouble with our other young fella (Taylor, now 18 months) and Natasha is having the baby on Friday," Powell said.
"I'm sure there will be no dramas.
"It's kinda good and not so good. It's disappointing for Natasha because she won't get to see the game, she's been a great supporter, but it's one less thing for me to worry about on grand final day.
"Personally I've been quiet nervous, especially early this week. There's just been so many things going on.
"I've also got to try and think about what 15 other blokes should be doing. Between the baby and grand final I haven't had a lot of sleep but the boys (team) are coping really well, better than me," he said.
"I've been trying to hide the nerves, disguise it to keep them calm and focused.
"There's just been a lot to think about. It's a very busy week."
There is more than a touch of coincidence in the timing of the baby's pending arrival.
In 2002 Powell was on the bench when Dean Callaway led the Grafton Ghosts to victory in the 2002 Group One rugby league grand final.
Powell, a builder, had been married only weeks earlier and Callaway's wife Christine was also expecting around grand final time.
"Dean was working for me at the time and I used to have a dig at him about what he was going to do with Christine in grand final week," Powell recalled.
"Now it's turned around and I'm sort of in almost the same position. It's ironic.
Powell has been involved with the Redmen since 1990 playing for the club as a 16-year-old.
Since then, despite having a few years on and off, Powell has played around 150 games for the Redmen.
He was with the Ghosts for two years ? 2001 and 2002 ? then in 2003 had a year off before returning to his beloved Redmen.
Last year he was co-coach with Steve Hackett and captained the Redmen second grade outfit that won the premiership.
This is Powell's debut year as first grade coach and the man with the Midas touch has turned around the top grade's fortunes.
"The way everything has worked out is a bit of a dream," Powell said.
"We ran last for the past two years now we're in the grand final.
"It's actually been a lot harder than I thought. I'm learning every week. It's a tough comp and there's no relaxing weeks."
Grand final preparations have been on song Powell added.
"We hooked into it on the beach last Saturday and that worked well and on Tuesday the boys were all keen and focused," Powell said.
"We've worked on our fitness all year. We've done all the hard work now it's a matter of game plan and trying to enjoy the week and relax."
Powell said the Redmen forwards hold the grand final key.
"It's no secret that's our strength," he said.
"In previous years they have probably under achieved for one reason or another but this time they are switched on. They are our platform to build from.
"We're are quietly confident of doing the job."
Go the Redmen!