Hancocks overcome nerves to revitalise title focus
HANCOCKS captain Nathan Smith was clearly relieved after his team's spirited preliminary final performance.
Beside the fact it kept his team's back-to-back grand final hopes alive, the look on his face captured how much he wants another premiership.
Beating Easts 7-3 on Sunday night ensured the defending A-Grade hockey champions and minor premiers could resume their title bid, temporarily halted by a resurgent Norths.
"After last week, we were a bit shattered to be honest,'' Smith said reflecting on Hancocks' 8-6 defeat to the Devils after shoot-outs.
"We knew we had to come out (tonight) and really give it to them and that's what happened. It was definitely an improvement.''
Queensland squad member Smith is preparing for his fourth grand final with Hancocks, his third as captain.
He was confident Hancocks would take a "solid 15'' into the grand final. "We just have to play like we have all year,'' he said, looking ahead to Saturday night's showdown with Norths.
"We were all a bit nervous last week. Finishing first, you're always expected to win.''
Knowing Norths have plenty of quality to contend with, the Hancocks skipper was encouraged by a number of terrific performances. They include Dane Rew, the reliable Sam Morgan and Jackson Willie, who scored a hat-trick to take his tally to 40 for the season.
Nathan's brother Ryan is also an important cog in the Hancocks' machine.
Although just missing out on the latest Queensland Blades squad, 22-year-old Nathan received another valuable opportunity. He's been invited to Australian development training in Sydney in October.