Pirates players relish revival on local rugby league scene
RUGBY LEAGUE: For Noosa captain Liam Anlezark and a selection of his team-mates, a grand final appearance in this year's Sunshine Coast division one competition is something to behold.
They have laboured at the club for the past few years, including a torrid spell last season, when the side folded because it wasn't competitive enough.
But some astute work behind the scenes at Pirate Park - and a little help from the Sunshine Coast Falcons - have propelled the team to great heights this campaign.
It's earned a place in the big dance, against Maroochydore at Bokarina on Sunday (3.30pm).
"There's a core group of us who have been there for the last five or six years, who have helped the club get through so it's pretty satisfying," Anlezark said.
"It has been tough at times...but the blokes who have stuck around during the last several years really love the club and we wanted to see it get back to where we are now."
He said there was some debate in the off-season about whether Noosa should try and field a side this year.
"When the decision was made to push for A-grade there were people who didn't like the idea and we copped some heat," he said.
"But I'm glad the club pushed on and made the hard choice because we have good juniors coming through and it's a pretty proud club."
Noosa has been bolstered by some Falcons players, who have not had regular time in the state league or state under-20s competition.
Five of them are set to feature in the decider, when the Swans will probably have two.
But Anlezark said "the club doesn't want to move forward relying on the Falcons heavily in the future".
"And when you look at the side we're putting out this weekend, the majority of blokes are Noosa juniors or have been around the club for a while."
Falcons coach Craig Ingebrigtsen said his players had helped the Pirates get back on their feet.
"It will hopefully give their area some credibility to put a team back in the competition and they won't need to rely on anyone else propping them up," he said.
"To be fair, they've done this on their own. We've (just) helped them with some players."
Noosa is in impressive late season form, squeezing into the four-team finals of the six-side Caloundra RSL Cup before accounting for Caloundra and Kawana.
"After last year, we had to learn to win again but I think the belief is there and the culture is there now," Anlezark said.
But he admitted the Swans posed a huge test.
"They're by far the benchmark of the competition and have been the last couple of years."
The Pirates were a force in the late 2000s, winning three premierships in a row.