Monster pack hunting an illusive grand final
FOR 23 years Jackson Solofa had little interest in rugby league.
Now, as he moves into his 30s, he is driven by a rugby league dream - winning a grand final.
The 130kg youth worker from Flinders View has been with the Goodna Eagles for seven years, taking up rugby league as a late starter.
"Before that I was into volleyball before football," the hard-running forward said.
Fortunately he has been willing to embrace change, both for footy and professionally.
Solofa is a youth worker in residential care facilities at Goodna and Redbank.
"I wanted a change because I'd been doing recruitment in the mining industry," he said.
"I needed a bit of a change and I wanted to help the kids."
The 30-year-old has won a reserve grade title with the Eagles and wants an A-grade premiership to go with it.
"A-grade has been a bit hit and miss," he said of the Eagles recent record.
Goodna lost to Brothers in 2008 and 2009 but have not won the A-grade crown since 2005.
"It's not something I'm going to give up on until we take the title," Solofa said.
He is confident the team this year contains a vital missing ingredient from previous campaigns.
"In the last few years we've had different personality clashes," he said.
"It's been a bit hard, with too many chiefs.
"We had that at the beginning of the year but have come together as a unit at the right time."
Backing up for the third match in eight days against Swifts on Sunday for the preliminary final means reaching the grand final will be tough enough.
But Solofa believes his team has dealt with the worst of it and come out better for it.
"The boys are pretty pumped," he said. "Especially after Wednesday night against Norths.
"It was a massive mental challenge but because we got over it has boosted our confidence."
Not that he or anyone from Goodna will take the Bluebirds lightly. Swifts won their previous encounter 26-16 last month.
"It's still a mental challenge for us because a lot of teams have the fitness edge over us, with us being the biggest forward pack in the comp," he said.
"So it's a mental challenge whoever we play.
"But everyone is pretty fit.
"Obviously the boys pulled up a bit sore but we've had a good pool session."
Goodna's weakness is also its strength and Solofa believes Goodna will win if its forwards dominate. I think the game is going to be won in the middle," he said.
"If our forwards keep playing up the middle and play our part everything else should run smoothly."
Profile: Jackson Solofa
- Favourite player: Greg Inglis.
- Biggest influence: Cousin and Goodna captain Fa Tauaa.
- Best advice: Just be honest with yourself.
- Pre-game dinner: Steak and veg.
- Pre-match ritual: I sit there looking angry when I'm not really that angry, quietly getting my game face on.
- Teammate you'd least like to be stuck on a deserted island with: Al Tauaa. Because he wouldn't stop mocking me.