Gladstone product set for national stage at SCG
TOUCH: Gladstone product Justin Cridland will step onto the hallowed turf of the Sydney Cricket Ground tomorrow for the 2019 NRL Touch Premiership.
The touch football prodigy has been a mainstay for the North Queensland Cowboys this season and recently picked up the Player of the Match award when the Cowboys defeated Wests Tigers at Parramatta's Bankwest Stadium on July 5.
The Cowboys are undefeated this year and will play Newcastle Knights in the decider.
The Knights qualified for the grand final by defeating the Tigers last weekend.
The women's NRL Touch Premiership decider will be held prior to the men and will feature Parramatta against Brisbane.
Another Gladstone product, Sophie Duff played for the Cowboys women this season.
The NRL Touch Premiership deciders kick-off at noon and will act as curtain-raisers to the Roosters versus Warriors NRL clash at 2pm.
Cridland, 22, has had the opportunity to play at a number of NRL grounds this season but said playing at the SCG would be an honour.
"We haven't played at the SCG before," Cridland said.
"Some of the other teams have but I'm pretty keen to go out there and play because it's such an historic ground.
"It should be pretty awesome. As a touch footballer I never really played in big stadiums when I was growing up but as a young footy player I dreamed of playing at stadiums like Suncorp and Dairy Farmers (1300SMILES Stadium).
"I've been able to do that this year and last year but I know (the SCG) has a great atmosphere and has all the history there so it's going to be great to play there as well."
The Cowboys are considered the benchmark of the NRL Touch Premiership but Cridland is expecting a tough encounter against the Knights.
"The Knights are one of the best in the game at rucking and they've got a really good rucking pattern," he said.
"They are very structured and have lots of options running off it.
"Watching them play the other teams they've torn them apart with their rucking runs up the field.
"That will be their biggest assest against us."
Cridland said the Cowboys' strength was their ability to score from anywhere on the field.
"We've got a good dynamic in our team where it's not one main attacking players and we've got attacking players right across the park," he said.
"We can flow down the field and find anyone on the fifth touch and anyone can have a crack.
"That's the good thing about the Cowboys over previous years - we don't just rely on one player and share the load."