BRETT FERRES is preparing for a first major final, at the end of his most frustrating season.
Groin and knee injuries – plus a long suspension – have restricted the second-rower to just 14 appearances for Leeds Rhinos this year and cost him a place in England’s elite performance squad.
But he has been named in Rhinos’ initial 19 for tonight’s Betfred Super League Grand Final against his hometown and former club Castleford Tigers and he admitted the chance to play on the biggest stage is well overdue.
“It has been a long time since I signed for Bradford,” Ferres reflected. “I thought I’d be challenging for trophies every year with that side, but it wasn’t meant to be. It’s now 14 years and I’m finally playing in my first major final, which is really pleasing.”
Ferres, 31, is confident he can handle the occasion. The Grand Final will be played in front of a full house of more than 73,000 at Old Trafford, but he stressed: “I’ve only been nervous once before a game and that was when I was about 12 playing for Cas and District against Hull at Lock Lane.
“My dad told me some scouts were coming to watch and I went on to have a shocker, my worst game ever.
“Since then I’ve always coped fine. It’s just another day, another game, another field we’re going out on.”
Ferres reckons Tigers are favourites, even without the dropped Zak Hardaker, but he feels Rhinos have what it takes to create an upset.
“They have been the best team consistently all year,” he said. “I’ve been told that every day living in Cas.
“Every time I’m walking around Asda their fans think they’ve already won it, but the pressure is on them; they have the Man of Steel, Super League’s top try-scorer, six players in the Dream Team.
“We’re looking forward to it. They are a very good side and have a great culture that Daryl Powell has developed since taking over. They’ve been building towards this, have some good players and have some consistent, confident performers.
“That has shown and they have got their just rewards, but there’s certainly a few bits in their game we can exploit and if we do that we know we can win. We’re not too shabby ourselves going in and we’re looking for a big finish.”