Norfolk Blues Head Coach Chris Porter has played and coached in plenty of rugby playoff games. Usually, he says, when his team hits that playoff wall and has to go home, he accepts it – understanding that his team went as far as it could.
Last year, he didn’t feel that way.
“That was the first time I was involved with a team where I felt we really should have made the final four, but didn’t,” said Porter. “We felt we belonged there, it just didn’t go our way. This year, we also feel like we belong.”
Going into this weekend Norfolk has a tough road ahead of them. They play Palmer, and then either the Chicago Lions or the Boston Irish Wolfhounds.
BIW is a young team that isn’t quite as savvy as last year’s. But Palmer is indeed a season club that will give the Blues some trouble.
That’s why Porter is glad to have his own veteran leadership in Ed Stockunas, Fred Wintermantel, and Drew Rogers.
“When we need to get the guys refocused, or look for that extra edge, we go to those guys,” said Porter.
The wild card in this bracket is, of course, the Chicago Lions. Seeded #4 out of the Midwest they upset #1 South seed New Orleans. OK, it wasn’t that much of an upset as the Lions were widely felt to have an improved lineup from the fall. But Head Coach Marty Wiggins hasn’t actually leaned that eahvily on old Super League stalwarts.
He’s more excited about the developing players that were with the club all fall. Dave Selimos, Luke Thiem, along with Matt Kelly, Dave Knab, Nick Viviani, and Jordan Highberger are about the future, and Wiggins has no problem with that.
So is this a recent Super League club ready to sneak up on everyone? Or a bunch of untested tyoung players ready to sneak up on everyone?
Chicago Lions v. Boston Irish Wolfhounds
Palmer v. Norfolk