Homebush Men’s Opens Continue Dynasty
The Homebush Titans Men’s Opens team made history earlier this year after being crowned State Cup Champions for the sixth year in a row.
The taste of victory just keeps getting sweeter for the Homebush Men’s Opens side, who claimed their sixth consecutive title at the NSW Senior State Championships in March this year.
Homebush Men’s Opens Coach, Jim Eassey believes it all started in 2015, when they took their ‘fourth strongest Homebush side to Nationals’.
Surpassing expectations, the team made it through to the Grand Final, where they lost to Central Coast 3-1, Eassey putting this achievement down to factors beyond talent.
“They just gelled – the culture and comradery among the players was really strong,” Eassey said.
“I told them, ‘look how far we’ve come in this tournament, and we still have to add to this… As long as you boys can commit and believe in the system, this is going to be the start of a dynasty’,” he said.
In 2016, the Homebush Men’s Opens dynasty began, when they were crowned undefeated NSW State Cup Champions. From then onwards, the team continued to build on their foundations, first focusing on discipline and attitude.
“You have to work on your discipline. You need to learn to adapt to a referee’s style and understand how to play the game accordingly,” Eassey said.
Over time, these men sustained a strong belief in the system put forward by their coaches and worked at it meticulously every year.
“Little basic stuff like marker don’t chase – your first step should always be backwards not forwards,” Eassey said.
“There was a lot of focus on our defense at training… We started to call it 18’s, meaning we had to go 18 tags without letting a try in on our line,” he said.
The leadership group, which Eassey referred to as the ‘spine of the team’ have played a large role in the consistency of the side over the years and possess the experience needed when younger talent is filtered through.
He gave special mention to six men who have been part of all six State Cup championships – Majed Hammoud, Akin Konak, Ehab Elsaddik, Hussein Ibrahim, Eddy Elkek, and Nathaniel Chou Lee.
“The last two tournaments, I’ve moved two players onto 30s and bought younger talent up, knowing they are more than capable,” Eassey said.
“Older legs, wiser heads – you still want that in a team, but as you get older, you get slower and with the game continuing to evolve, we have to make sure we’re not falling behind the eight ball when it comes to competing against the best,” he said.
As the Men’s Opens Division 1 becomes increasing competitive, Homebush are aware that they must continue to develop and adjust their gameplay to their opposition.
“There’s no blow outs, games are always close, and all wins are a grind, so we can’t become complacent; we have to continue to take our game to the next level,” Eassey said.
“We have to adapt to what teams throw at us – If they play through the middle, we compress our D… We must identify their key players and work out a style that ensures we control that game,” he said.
Over the six years, the Homebush Titans Men’s Opens have played 54 games; of these, they’ve won 51, drew two and lost one – unbelievable statistics.
With two players injured come this year’s Grand Final, the well-respected Homebush side still managed to pip rivals, Central Coast in a thrilling 2-1 win.
“We were down to 14, so two middles played the whole first half; their tagging was just exceptional,” Eassey said.
“The never giving up attitude, the one-percenters – they rely on these things,”
“Even when they have less possession, they capitalize on the opportunities when they do have ball in hand and then back their defence,” he said.
Having made history, Eassey is extremely proud of the men, both past and present, that have contributed to the success of this team over the years.
“To win one its hard, to back it up is even harder, but to start a dynasty – everyone comes for you, everyone wants to beat you; everyone shows up to their game against you,” Eassey said.
“It’s not a coaching role for me anymore, all I’m doing is managing these boys… They know their job and it’s reflecting,” he said.
Eassey is aware that the dynasty will one day come to an end, but there is no doubt that the standard of this team can be used as incentive for the Oztag community for years to come.
“It will come to an end one day; but will it be at our own fault, or will it be because a team was better?” he questioned.