Whichever coach is ultimately crowned the champion on Sunday night, they may one day look back on it as their greatest achievement.
At the conclusion of Preliminary Final weekend, the quartet of coaches that entered had a combined for total of exactly 1400 wins. That’s a lot of team victory songs.
Ivan Cleary and Wayne Bennett have had to do it the hard way, and the teams and coaches they beat to get there weren’t exactly slouches.
On the top of relocations due to COVID, here is a look at the difficulties faced in 2021 from both coach’s perspective.
Ivan’s Panthers have had to go the long way home. His son, Nathan, has been nursing a shoulder injury, and star winger Brian To’o has his own battles.
Add in the tough slogs against two professional sides in Parramatta and Melbourne, they may have had the two hardest weeks in premiership rugby league history.
For Ivan, if he is to get the job done, he will need to have won consecutive games over Craig Bellamy and Wayne Bennett. That’s easier said than done.
For Wayne, at the start of the year, many were tipping the Bunnies to go all the way.
This was largely due to the fact they went so close last year and did it without Latrell Mitchell, and that this year they would have him and that would make all the difference.
Well, Latrell got suspended and so did the enthusiasm for the Rabbitohs to win the competition.
How many teams win premierships with their best player on the side lines come Grand Final day?
Any other club choosing not to re-sign a club legend like Adam Reynolds would find it almost impossible to get things on track, but Wayne has turned it into his advantage.
Their Grand Final opponents are Penrith, and while some would say that’s a better result than facing Melbourne, you’ve got to remember the Panthers handed them a 50-point trouncing just this year.
This could really be the hardest premiership ever won.
Immortality awaits whichever coach is holding the cup aloft come October 3.