HOME GROWN: Marist Brothers coach Craig Hodges with his own cheer squad warming up for the game against Mullumbimby tomorrow ?
HOME GROWN: Marist Brothers coach Craig Hodges with his own cheer squad warming up for the game against Mullumbimby tomorrow ?

Reaching the grand final a family affair

By RENEE REDMOND

Pressure on Rams coach,from daughter CRAIG HODGES will have his own cheer squad tomorrow when Marist Brothers take on the Mullumbimby Giants in the rugby league elimination final.

The match is a replay of last year's grand final when the Rams lost to the Giants, but Craig promises that it won't be a grudge match for the players.

"A lot of the players are new to both teams, but our supporters might still see it as a grudge match," he said.

The Marist Brothers' coach said he had already promised his eldest daughter, eight-yearold Dakota, a spot with the team's cheerleaders for the grand final game, provided they get there.

"Dakota's been practising in the lounge room and has proclaimed her life ambition to be a Brothers cheerleader, but I have higher hopes for her," he said.

"My younger daughters, McKenzie and Ruby, tend to follow the lead of their big sister.

"If we lose tomorrow we're out. It'll be enormous if we win.

"We're basically a new team from last season, apart from about three players.

"We're not concentrating too far ahead. Ten minutes of bad football can cost you the game when you're playing against the top teams."

Craig said the new players were young and eager, which rubbed off on the older wise men.

"Most of the guys met for the first time at our first practice. They've bonded well together, which means they're prepared to sweat for each other," he said.

"We've been playing our cards close to our chest. We can't give too much away."

Giants coach and former Marist Brothers player, Dave Latta, said everyone was pretty excited about the game.

"We've been working on getting our game right in training this week, and we're praying our supporters will come out and cheer us on," he said.

"We're quietly confident that the guys are going to put on a good show tomorrow afternoon, and if the ball bounces our way a few times we'll hopefully knock them off.

"I've got a lot of respect for the Brothers team and wish them well, but I'm not going to wish them too much luck."

n The Marist Brothers v Mullumbimby Giants game kicks off at 2.45pm at Oakes Oval, Lis- more, tomorrow.

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