Cale crook on Thunder’s final week bye

GROUP NINE
Nanjing Night Net

PREMIERSHIP-winning coach Josh Cale yesterday revealed his frustrations at Group Nine’s decision to give Albury a bye in the final round for the third time in six years.

Although minor details are yet to be tweaked, Group Nine yesterday released a provisional draw for next season, lumping the premiers with a week off before the finals.

Quick to count his blessings, Cale admitted his fears that Thunder could be faced with a fortnight on the sidelines before the major semi-final if the team lands the minor premiership again next season.

“You can’t predict where you’re going to finish but it’s going to be a disadvantage for any side to have the bye in the last round,” he said.

“I just think coming into semi-final time any week off sort of stops the momentum.

“It all depends on where we finish so it could be a blessing in disguise.

“As a coach I wouldn’t prefer the last round, I don’t know why we get it so often but that’s the way it goes.”

Although the Group Nine minor premiership is the ultimate goal, Cale insists losing momentum at the critical stage of the season could be detrimental to Thunder’s title chase.

After taking out the minor premiership this season, Thunder was given a week off in the first round of finals before winning the major semi-final and landing another week off ahead of the grand final.

If history repeats next season, Thunder could play one game in five weeks before the decider.

“I guess any team has the goal to finish first we’ll reassess how we go through the year but that’s out goal,” he said.

“If we’re lucky enough to finish with the minor premiership again its potentially two weeks off (before the major semi final) so it’s a definite disadvantage.”

Group Nine has ducked suggestions of a Saturday night grand final to avoid a clash with the RFL decider, scheduling the decider for the traditional Sunday spectacle on September 29.

The season will kick off on April 27 with a “rivalry round”.

Although Saturday and Sunday games haven’t yet been determined, Brothers and Kangaroos will face off in the traditional blockbuster at Equex Centre in the first round.

Meanwhile, Gundagai will take on Thunder, Cootamundra will host Young, Tumut will play Tumbarumba and Temora will face Junee.

Albury’s premiership-winning coach Josh Cale.

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