It took losing the 2019 grand final for Lawson Creighton to understand how precious those premiership shots are because they come around so rarely.
It’s taken three years for another chance to loom for Brothers but only if they are good enough to handle Sunday’s 3pm preliminary final at Bond University.
Of course, it would have to be traditional foes University of Queensland blocking the way in this intriguing StoreLocal Hospital Cup finals series.
It was UQ that inflicted the 31-26 defeat on Creighton and his Brothers teammates in the 2019 grand final.
“I still remember the dressing sheds and being lost for words after that loss. When (skipper) Tom Moloney finally spoke, it was about how much it meant to Brothers and all players, not just us but past players too,” Creighton reflected.
“It definitely still burns and I want to get back there and win one.
“There’s a big history between Uni and Brothers and they are always good games. Uni are very well drilled, work together and know their game so we will have to bring our best.”
Creighton, fullback in the 2019 decider, will play wing in the preliminary final after playing at flyhalf for Queensland against the Kiwi sides to finish Super Rugby Pacific.
He has inked a new two-year deal with the Reds after making a positive impression in his debut season of Super Rugby Pacific.
“Flyhalf is where I see myself ultimately but being versatile is always a plus and I feel I can help with the outcome from the wing,” Creighton said.
The Brothers weapon certainly did so in last Sunday’s tight 23-18 minor semi-final success over GPS. His neat footwork on a little run set up the platform from which James O’Connor attacked the line and scored after a fine interchange with No.8 Harry Wilson. A try-saving Creighton tackle also helped save the day late in the game.
Creighton has a shot at a rare premiership double over the next few weeks.
Brother Hudson is bidding for a premiership with giantkillers Queanbeyan Whites against Canberra Royals in Saturday’s John I Dent Cup grand final in the ACT.
“The family will be watching the livestream,” Creighton nodded.
University’s unflagging flanker Conor Mitchell knows all about the emotions of a sibling at finals time.
Back in 2016, Mitchell led Uni to a come-from-behind 32-31 win over Sunnybank in the preliminary final which gutted brother Brendan, who was playing in the pack for the Dragons.
Brendan called time on his career this week after falling short with Gordon in Sydney’s Shute Shield grand final.
“Brendan is hanging up the boots and was asking me if I felt it was near time,” Conor, 28, said.
“I’ve definitely got a few more seasons left in me.”
Mitchell has three UQ premierships to his name already from 2012, 2014 and 2021. The hunger doesn’t diminish over time, especially with Brothers up next on Sunday on the Gold Coast.
“I love these big games against Brothers. They are battles and they normally go the full 80,” Mitchell said.
“They are a smart and dangerous attacking team and their scramble defence was very good to keep GPS out at the end.”
Playing a drama-filled 37-all draw with Wests over 121 exhausting minutes last weekend had to be draining, especially for someone like prop Dane Zander, who played every minute.
“We had a good recovery the day after the semi-final, went a bit lighter on contact at Tuesday night training, had a good review and it was down to work as normal on Thursday night. We’re ready to go again,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell said having the experienced Mick Heenan at the helm did mean something at this time of the season.
“It’s massive having Mick as coach. He’s seen everything over more than a decade in charge. He’s had teams go straight through to the grand final or do it the long way like we are,” Mitchell said.
“The finals are very different to the regular season and Mick knows how to get us right mentally for the occasion.
“We showed we could score points with six tries against Wests. Our own errors let us down so that’s where we have to tidy up.”
Wests will be waiting for the victor with the grand final set for Suncorp Stadium on September 18.