Hard Truths

East Wagga-Kooringal knows it’s close.

The 2019 Farrer League runner ups are in the pole position to make a September run and spoil the premiership potential of league leaders, Marrar.

Coach Matt Hard knows the window is open and the opportunity is now, so it’s little surprise the staple of Riverina coaching wants to stick around.

“Yeah, I’ll be around for another 12 months,” the recently re-signed Hard said.

“We have so many players at different experienced and stages of their career, so it’s a really good group and a happy club to be around at the moment. It was a pretty easy decision.”

Hard’s extension as the Hawks head honcho only reaffirms the club’s position as premiership contenders.

Currently sitting second on the ladder, East Wagga has overcome injury after injury this year, but against all odds find themselves ready to round the corner and make another run at premiership redemption.

“It says a lot about the group that we’ve been able to fight through those injuries and make the most of the opportunities we’ve had,” Hard said.

“We’re getting to the stage now where the list is nearly healthy and for the first time in a long time there’s genuine pressure from a lot of guys in the two’s which is only going to make us better come finals.”

In a scary prospect to their opposition, the Hawks are also on the verge of welcoming back two genuine guns of the competition.

“We should have Nick (Hull) back next week and Jarrad Boumann the week after that.

“They haven’t even really played together yet and the idea of those two guys in the same team is pretty exciting.”

But for all the excitement of what could be for East Wagga, the reality is the club still has a monumental hurdle to overcome en route to their first premiership since 2016.

“Marrar are very good. Very very good,” Hard admitted.

“They’re a close group and there’s that real desire to play for each other and that’s what we probably saw a few weeks ago.

They’re so strong willed and we don’t have the familiarity as a team to be able to replicate that, which means we have to limit our mistakes because they really make you pay.”

Limiting mistakes and finding form.

That’s half the battle of winning games this late in the year, and it’s a something the Hard knows all too well.

“Just look at 2019,” he said.

“We needed a win in the last round just to get into the top three and then four weeks later we were the first team into the Grand Final.

“Things can change quickly, so if we get our boys enjoying their footy and treating these games as important tune up games that will really give ourselves an opportunity to stand up when it counts.”

In an uncertain world, the only constant is an unwavering desire to right the wrong of the club’s Grand Final defeat of 2019.

Not even the lingering threat of COVID enough to clip the Hawks wings.

“There’s no point losing sleep over something you can’t control.

“As far as we’re aware it’s business as usual and will be so until we hear otherwise.”

All business at the business end of the season.