Dedicated coach inspires Laidley



NOTHING stops Robbie Bichel.

Despite being stuck in a hospital bed for several days, the inspirational Laidley rugby league player/coach has been plotting ways to keep his beloved Lions in the hunt for an historic premiership.

After being struck down by a respiratory infection and a rash over 98 per cent of his body, Bichel has been unable to take to the field.

The dedicated coach was lying in a hospital bed during his side's 46-6 loss to Brothers.

"My wife was at the game and she kept ringing me to let me know how the boys were doing," Bichel said.

""t was hard lying there and not being able to try and turn the game around."

The Lions mentor also took no part in Laidley's 28-10 loss to South Burnett on Sunday.

Bichel rates himself as a 50/50 chance of playing against West End during Saturday night's elimination final.

Whenever the utility player takes to the field the Lions are a totally different side.

However, Bichel believes he can do just as much service to his team by concentrating on the coaching side of things.

Bichel will await test results this week before deciding whether to strap on the boots.

"I believe I can be just as much of a service for the team running the bench," he said.

"When I am on the field I can't concentrate on the amount of interchanges as much.

"The boys want me out there to guide them around, but I think I can benefit them more from the sideline."

Whether or not Bichel takes to the field for the do-or-die match, he is all too aware of the Bulldogs' desire to win.

The Lions were lucky to get away with a controversial 36-34 round two win against West End.

The Bulldogs hit back with a 54-6 drubbing in round 11.

"It certainly will be a game that will come down to the wire," he said.

"All teams lift during finals so I think there will be great attacking raids from both and some big shots put on.

"It is just great to have made the finals. My goal was to win at least half of the amount of games and we have done that.

"Last year was our first season in the comp and this year again was always going to be a learning curve.

"We recruited well in the off-season signing Dan Wilson and Matt Kelly which bolstered our young team.

"I think we honestly can do even better next year. The club is starting to go forward. Now we just have to go on with it with a win on Saturday night."

After finishing with the wooden spoon in 2006, the Lions have clawed their way back into premiership contention. Bichel's charges have slogged it out all season, winning nine games.

In past years, Laidley would be enjoying their season-ending celebrations this week. But Bichel has other plans.

"We played well against South Burnett even though we lost," Bichel said.

"We just have to do the little things right and have plenty of belief in ourselves.

"I honestly think we have a real chance at winning. I just want the boys to go into the game with plenty of confidence."

Laidley tackle West End in the elimination final at Qld Group Stadium on Saturday night.



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