You are not permitted to download, save or email this image. Visit image gallery to purchase the image.
Green Island co-captain Sam Eriepa has played 154 premier games for the club and a lot of them have been memorable for the wrong reasons.
He was there when the Grizzlies were crushed 127-12 by Taieri in 2014.
He was there again when Harbour thumped them 99-7 the following season.
And there again for the many other heavy defeats Green Island endured during what was a long lean period for the club.
But he was also there for the metamorphosis which began about four years ago under coach Dean Moeahu.
Moeahu led the team back into the playoffs in 2019. It was the club’s first appearance in the play-offs since 2002.
Last year the side fell back down the ladder but has set the benchmark this year and has an opportunity to create history in the final against Taieri at Forsyth Barr Stadium this afternoon.
Green Island has not won the Dunedin premier club title since 1978.
It would mean a lot for the faithful out at Miller Park and lot to Eriepa.
‘‘Yep. That was me. I was there right to the final whistle unfortunately,’’ the 32-year-old said.
‘‘I was part of the pain. But it is good to be on the other end of the stick for once.’’
And Green Island has wielded that stick rather ruthlessly this year.
It went unbeaten in the first six games of the Gallaway Trophy. It was not until it had secured a spot in the playoffs that defeat came along.
The team made the smart decision to rest some of the key players it expected would be missing come the final.
They are missing. Otago trio Dylan Nel, Ray Nu’u and James Arscott will not feature in the final having played in a warm-up game for Otago on Thursday.
But form winger Michael Manson has been released by Otago which is a boost.
Either way Green Island was determined to be prepared. It will need to be because Taieri has hit form at the right time.
The defending champions will be without Otago loose forward Sam Fischli but are otherwise at full strength.
‘‘We certainly know we have a challenge in front of us. It will certainly be a battle up front.’’
Green Island’s working-class tight five has delivered all year and is intact for the final, so that bodes well.
But Taieri has a lot more experience in the big games.
The defending champions are playing in their third consecutive final and they have won four titles since 2011.
You only need to look at their bench to see the kind of the depth the Eels have managed to build.
Veteran midfielder Kori Rupene and forward Brodie Hume have played more than 250 games between them. Classy outside back Mitchell Scott has returned from injury at a pivotal time and halfback Bob Martin is a fine player to bring on when looking for impact.
Taieri captain Ben Morris said it was an area of strength the team would look to exploit
‘‘It is awesome to have that depth in the club and they know they have a role to play,’’ Morris said.
‘‘When they come on they put their hand up and I’m sure those boys will make a difference [today].’’
The game gets under way at 3pm and will be livestreamed at odt.co.nz.