Tough decisions ahead for Duffy

DAMIEN STANNARD

Middlemount Panthers captain/coach Joel Duffy would rather lose sleep now than toss and turn on grand final night as he agonises over the tough selection calls for Saturday’s decider.

The Panthers will host their first grand final since 2010 when they stage the Central Highlands Rugby League climax against the Bluff Rabbitohs at Norm Blanche Oval.

Team selection, particularly for finals, can be a vexing job and the Panthers are at last flush with options after struggling at times to field a full squad during the home and away rounds.

Big guns Leigh Coghill, Mick Morris, Mitch Wyatte, Sam Creedon, Joe Taotofi and Jamie Sullivan are all available for the final game of 2017.

The opportunity to pick father/son duo Jason and Jonas Randell is just one dilemma tugging at the heartstrings.

With fly in-fly out (FIFO) and seven-day mining rosters wreaking havoc on clubs, a full list is a rarity but Duffy has almost all his troops to call on.

That means at least one loyal Panther will be denied a shot at history.

“Do you leave out one of your best players who’s played three games for a fringe player who’s played 15?” Duffy said.

“I’ve spoken to a number of people who’ve selected grand final teams with their heart and regretted it. Every bit of feedback I’ve had has been to pick your best team.

“It’s really difficult, and heartbreaking because I’m a player as well and played alongside all of these blokes.

“But all I can do is be open and honest with them.”

Wyatte has the chance to win a sixth premiership with his third CHRL club after featuring in four grand final wins with Peak Downs and one with Bluff.

“Last year we were just happy to get there,” the five-eighth said of last year’s loss to the Tigers.

“We had a lot of injuries and everyone was fairly wounded.

“This year we’ve put ourselves in a lot better position.”

The match is also a chance for Wyatte to play the hero for Middlemount after he was one of the visiting villains who heaved Peak Downs back from a halftime deficit to win the 2009 title at Norm Blanche Oval.




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