ILLAWARRA PREMIER LEAGUE
With a well-earned break this weekend, Bulli coach Ben Smith will take the opportunity to freshen up his players for the Illawarra Premier League grand final at Crehan Park on September 29.
Bulli advanced to the premiership decider with a 3-2 extra time win over Dapto Dandaloo in the major semi-final at Balls Paddock on Sunday.
The Fury will play Port Kembla in the preliminary final at Wetherall Park this Sunday after Port edged out Tarrawanna also 3-2 in extra time in the minor semi-final at JJ Kelly Park.
"The club is very happy, looking forward to it," Smith said of the grand final date.
"We're not too concerned who we play.
"Hopefully they can knock each other around a bit next Sunday, extra time would be good.
"We're more worried about ourselves, making sure we take care of a few boys that have got a few niggling injuries, and freshen everyone up.
"We've had two weeks of extra time games on pretty firm pitches at this time of year so everyone's pretty sore at the moment.
"So it will be good to have a break."
Smith said Bulli wouldn't be doing too much this week, have a session this Sunday and get back into normal training next week.
The coach expects one of his young players, Brendan Pattman, who has missed the past two games with an ankle injury, to be available for selection in the grand final squad.
"A couple of others we've lost have had season-ending injuries and they won't be back," Smith said.
"I'm sure those boys are doing it pretty tough at the moment. They're only young fellows, they've got a lot of good years ahead of them.
"It's more a case of them getting their injuries right now while they're young, rather than try to play on and aggravate them.
"So it's tough for them at the moment but we'll try and keep them involved as much as possible."
What has impressed Smith most about his players has been their team ethic and consistency.
"All of them put the team first," he said.
"It's not about individuals. Just the consistency. They've been real consistent throughout the whole season.
"We've got some experienced heads which really help with that. But for the young boys, they've really been consistent as well which you don't always get with younger players. The difference between their highs and lows hasn't been that great which has been a bit unexpected really."
While grand finals are supposed to be approached as just another game, they aren't for a number of reasons - including the hype surrounding them.
But the Bulli squad has a really sound attitude which should stand them in good stead going into the premiership decider.
"They're all level-headed," Smith said.
"It is a different ball game playing in the grand final but the team's had high expectations all year internally.
"How they cope with the external attention or expectations is something we'll soon find out.
"But internally we've always had high expectations within the team."