You may not think someone who has won three senior rugby league grand finals would get nervous before a big game, but Scott Rutland says he’ll be more nervous than ever when his under-10s take to the field this Saturday (10 September).
“I’m terrible and it will be no different this Saturday,” Rutland says. “Even as a player, I used to pace around and couldn’t sit still.
“Earlier this week, I was pretty relaxed, but now I’m starting to get phone calls from parents and it’s all happening.”
No fewer than eight young Queanbeyan Blues teams will play in the Canberra Region Rugby League (CRRL) junior grand finals, being played from Friday to Sunday.
Should all teams, from under-10s to under-16s, win on their fields of dreams, it will be a proud feather in the cap of the Queanbeyan Blues Rugby League Club, which formed in 1932 and has fielded many NRL greats, including Glenn Lazarus, Ricky Stuart and Matt Giteau.
The junior Blues will contest the division one under-10s, division one under-11s, division two and three under-12s, division one under-13s, division one under-14s, under-15 girls, and under-16 boys’ grand finals.
Only the West Belconnen Magpies come closest with seven teams in the grand finals this weekend.
Blues’ junior club secretary Robert Reeves is quietly confident the club will come away with at least two or three premierships, but anything can happen on the day.
“To get eight junior teams in the grand finals from almost every age group in the club is an outstanding achievement, and we couldn’t be more proud of all the players and families involved,” he said.
The U10 grand final will carry extra significance for the Rutland family, with Scott having won three grand finals back-to-back with Queanbeyan Blues before hanging up the boots. His father-in-law also coached the Blues and played for the Canberra Raiders.
Rutland’s U10s will face rivals West Belconnen (Westies), who won the minor premiership.
“I’m really proud of Max and his pop is too – it’s a pretty special moment,” Rutland said.
“They’re a unique group and super competitive. Eighty per cent of the players have been together since under-6s. Some of the things they do at training have blown me away, so I know they’ll give it their all.
“We lost round one against Westies, and they also won the minor premiership, but that counts for nothing in a grand final.”
Blues’ U13 coach Jeremy Howell will take his side into its fourth straight grand final, having won the last three and finishing as minor premiers this year.
“These boys have pretty much grown up with me,” Howell said.
“They train two days a week, play OzTag during summer, and even do strength and conditioning training. I’m so proud of them as they just thrive on hard work.”
Even Blues’ senior coach Terry Campese is inspired by the team and regularly attends training.
“I’ve taken the template that Campo puts in with the senior players, so it’s no surprise to see them achieve what they’ve been able to, and hopefully, we can add another premiership to the tally,” Howell said.
Howell has no doubt a few of his charges will go on to play in the NRL.
Last week, Blues’ senior captain-coach and former Canberra Raider Terry Campese won the 2022 Les McIntyre Medal as the best and fairest in the CRRL competition.