Almost 12 months after returning to the Mariners following a few years away from the Coast, Sam Silvera is preparing to play in his first ever Grand Final.
The winger has flourished under the guidance of head coach Nick Montgomery, scoring seven goals and adding four assists in 28 games in what has been his most productive season to date.
Two man of the match performances in the last four rounds have helped propel the side into Saturday’s decider, with Silvera paying credit to Montgomery for knowing how to get the best out of him.
“I think throughout his career, he kind of understands that for the level that we need to play at you need a bit more of a manager-player relationship. I think he gives that encouragement especially, for example, for the attackers. We have to defend together but when we get in the front third, he says just go out and express yourself,” Silvera said.
“He gives us that confidence every training day and every game so I’m just grateful to have that sort of relationship with the coach. Off the pitch as well you can just have a good chat to him and a good laugh, it’s great.”
Benefiting as well from the strong culture in the team this season, he again credits Montgomery for bringing a winning mentality to the side.
“I think it comes from Monty for sure. He’s always since the day that I came, he’s always wanted a winning mentality. He’s always wanted to reach the Grand Final this season. That’s been the goal throughout the whole season,” he said.
“He’s put that mentality into each and every one of us, that winning mentality to go out every game and win no matter if it’s against the bottom team or the top team.”
The winger is looking forward to what will be the biggest match of his career, a Grand Final against Premiers Melbourne City. Still a few days out from the game, Silvera is keeping his cool in the lead up.
“I’m feeling very excited. The nerves haven’t kicked in yet for me. We are all just very excited to play,” he said.
“Once we get close, I think that excitement will come out even more, maybe some of the nervousness but I think for me personally, I don’t really get that nervous.”
Off the back end of what has been a two-week break, Silvera is just ready to get back out on the park and play football.
“When we finished the regular season off and then had the extra weekend without a game, we all just had that momentum and wanted to play again. Instead, we worked on ourselves and took care of little niggles,” he said.
“We have done the same over this period as well, focusing on ourselves and I think we are looking really good.”