DOES the memory of last year's grand final defeat against Redan drive Sunbury?
Yes and no, says Sunbury coach Rick Horwood.
At yesterday's BFL press conference at Saxon House, Horwood said the team had not dwelled on the fact that his team had lost last year's grand final by two points nor that Redan was the opponent that delivered that defeat.
He couldn't deny, however, that it was on the minds of some his players.
"We mentioned (last year's defeat) on Tuesday but during the year it hasn't been spoken of a lot," Horwood said. "(But) I don't think the players or the coaching staff will forget that disappointment.
"It's always the same opponent because it seems Redan always plays Sunbury in grand finals. I think that's a given.
"I don't think it magnifies it (the significance of playing Redan again in a grand final).
"The experience the young guys got from last year has been good. They've been pretty calm in finals this year."
Last year it was Sunbury that had to win its way into the grand final by winning a preliminary final, as Redan enjoyed the break before the decider.
This year it was Sunbury waiting after winning the second semi-final, and Redan battling through the other contenders, via a preliminary final, to get there.
"If we had played last weekend I would say the weekend off was not advantageous but it has been advantageous for us because we had a few niggles and it has given us time to recover, work on a few structures and areas we need to improve on," Horwood said.
"It also gave us a chance to look at Redan playing so well last weekend against East Point."
The extra week also means virtually a full list of players to choose from.
Sunbury's leading goal kicker Dale Ciunik will come into the team after recovering from an illness, which means the eastern Lions will have their own selection dilemmas.
Unlike Redan, which has teams in the under-18.5 and reserves grand finals, there will be no consolation prize for players who miss out.
On balance, though, Sunbury is better off than last year, Horwood said.
"There is going to be some disappointment because we've probably got 26 players for 22 spots," Horwood said. "There will be some really disappointed young men.
"It's totally different from last year when we were falling over, trying to get blokes to train, losing players like Jay Cheep who played his only game in five weeks in a grand final.
"We're very balanced (compared with previous years). We have some very good players who are in very good form who will be critical to the result of the game.
"Last year we were on the decline with fitness, this year we've been building and momentum is going our way.
"It will come down to their young guys versus our young guys. I'm pretty confident with our young guys and the experience they got last year. They've played 15-17 games this year where last year it was eight or nine, so I think we'll match up well in that department."