Gladstone coach Steve Thompson at his team’s home ground – the Steve Thompson Domain. PHOTO/FILE

RUGBY

JAKE BELESKI
jake.beleski@age.co.nz

Winning the Wairarapa-Bush Tui Cup competition was nothing new for Gladstone coach Steve Thompson, but the popular coach says the achievement gets more meaningful each time.

Thompson has been at the helm of the Gladstone senior team for almost two decades, after joining the club as a player in the 70s.

Since taking the reins as head coach the club has won five premier titles.

Saturday’s 32-10 win over Carterton was as dominant a performance as you could hope for in a big match, but Thompson said their approach had been the same as it was throughout the rest of the season.

“We did want to finish on a high and as it was, we did do that.

“I thought we played really well and everybody did their part – the subs and guys who started put together an awesome effort.”

Gladstone won the title in 2001, 2007 and 2011, before claiming back-to-back championships in the past two seasons.

Thompson said he gets more out of winning now than he did back in his early years with the club.

“It’s more meaningful because of how you go about it and how you do it.

“You try to do everything to win it, but a lot of thought goes into it now.”

Thompson was full of praise for Carterton and the way they had played throughout the season, but said he had a feeling his side were ready to rumble on the day of the match.

“I had a feeling we were up for it – it was just a matter of not being nervous.

“We went about our normal Saturday routine and there was no extra hype to it, so I just really left it to the boys who were all keen and excited.”

Thompson said it was important to not have his players “jumping out of their skin”, and that staying calm and focused was the better option.

The bad news for other clubs is that Gladstone are expected to return with a similar group of players and management in 2019, when they will be aiming for a three-peat of championships.

“The immediate talk is that we’ll have a similar group.

“I would say we will have a good bulk of them back at this stage.”