Edinburgh Eagles rugby league team are preparing for their biggest match of the summer when they take on the Strathmore Silverbacks in the Grand Final tomorrow.
The winners of the encounter, which is taking place at Peffermill Playing Fields at 2pm with free entry, will not only be crowned the 2017 champions, but will represent Scotland in the 2018 Challenge Cup.
The Challenge Cup is the oldest rugby league tournament in the world and if Edinburgh Eagles qualify it would mean they would get a shot at some of the top amateur clubs in England and then maybe some professional outfits.
For example, this year’s Challenge Cup final will feature Wigan and Hull in front of up to 80,000 people at Wembley at the end of this month.
However, that is all for another day and all that is on the minds of the Eagles players now is winning against the men from Forfar.
Earlier in the season in the regular Caledonian Brewery National League fixture, the Silverbacks won an entertaining clash 42-28.
Mark Robertson, one of the Eagles’ most experienced players, is looking forward to the Grand Final.
The 34-year-old said: “It is an exciting thing for everyone at the club to be involved in this match.
“Over the last couple of years we have been rebuilding since a group of experienced players stopped playing the game, but the new guys that have come in have done really well.
“The problem that we have at times is that not a lot of youngsters in Scotland play rugby league at school, but once they get down training with us they realise what a great sport it is and they are hooked.
“We have a few Australians in our team currently, but the rest are pretty much local guys and our coach this season, Barry McGuffog, has been a breath of fresh air. He has introduced us to new tactics and a way of playing and the guys seem to have bought into that.
“When we lost to Strathmore earlier in the season I think the main difference in the end was fitness levels, so since that game we have been working extra hard on our fitness and making sure we can keep going for the whole match.
“It has been an up and down season with lots of new faces and opponents sometimes not being able to fulfil fixtures, but everyone always wants to play in finals in a sporting career and we have that chance now.”
Robertson, who tends to play full-back in the team but can play pretty much any position except front-row given his experience, turned to rugby league after he suffered a couple of knee injuries playing rugby union.
He has not looked back since switching codes and explained: “I started playing rugby union when I was young at my local club in Tranent, Ross High.
“I moved up the age-grades there before a cruciate ligament injury in my left knee aged 18. I came back from that one, but when I was 21 I suffered a similar injury to my right knee.
“After that I was out for a while and when I returned to fitness I was keen to try something new so I headed along to the Edinburgh Eagles.
“That was 10 or 11 years ago now and I have loved it. In the first few years I was here there was a core in the side who taught me a lot about the sport and I try and pass my knowledge on to the younger guys now if I can.
“It is such a great sport, you get involved a lot more in the game than if you were playing rugby union and I have pretty much become hooked. I would urge youngsters to give it a try.”