Norths went home without a prize from today’s Hostplus Cup awards but the Devils have their sights on only one trophy as they prepare for tomorrow’s grand final at Redcliffe.
The Devils were overlooked by the judges in every category this season as Burleigh Bears took more than half the places in the Hostplus Cup team of the year.
But the Devils don’t crave the individual honours, rather focusing on the team approach that has them aiming for consecutive premierships.
They must first overcome a Redcliffe Dolphins team that provided the centre of the year in Valynce Te Whare as the grand finalists combined for only one of the 14 individual awards handed out at City Hall.
“The winners today were all very deserving but we’ve only ever focused on team goals and we get the chance to do that tomorrow,” Devils co-captain Jack Ahearn said.
“Tomorrow is a new opportunity for us. It’s about us playing as well as we can tomorrow against a very good team in Redcliffe.”
There is plenty of new history to be made tomorrow when two great rivals meet.
This is the first time that the Devils and Dolphins have met in a grand final despite playing against each other for the first time in an exhibition match in 1959 when Clive Churchill was the Devils captain.
It’s the first time that the third and fourth-placed teams have met in a grand final since the Queensland Cup began in 1996.
The Devils must repeat their unforgettable 1980 grand final win when they came from fourth place to stun Souths in the decider at Lang Park.
This Devils team has already knocked over minor premiers Burleigh and second-placed Sunshine Coast in the finals series.
The Dolphins have won both matches against the Devils this season but Ahearn told today’s awards ceremony that those games were in the past.
“We’re in a different place since those matches and the Dolphins have also improved so tomorrow is a new challenge,” Ahearn said.
“We’ve had some experience from last season in getting ready for this game so that’s been valuable but we still have some players who weren’t part of last year’s team.”
Eight of the Devils’ 17-man squad for tomorrow were not part of the team that toppled Wynnum Manly 16-10 in last year’s stirring grand final.
Ahearn and his co-captain Michael Sio were on the field that day along with Connor Broadhurst, Tyrone Roberts, Leivaha Pulu, Jacob Gagan, Liam Horne, Matthew Milson and Jerome Veve.
This grand final provides chances for the likes of Tony Tumusa and Brendan Piakura, who missed last year’s grand final through injury, and Viko Puliueva and Jayden Stephens who were part of the Devils squad but not chosen last year.
“There has always been a squad approach to our football and we know we have a lot of players who have played a huge role in what’s happened so far this season,” Sio said.
“We’re ready and we can’t wait.”