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Cairns pair making up for lost time in XXXX League Championship final

Aidan Day thrives on doing the heavy lifting in the middle and after the most challenging two years of his footy career, a shot at the XXXX League Championship final means more than most.

The Cairns forward leader, who played 39 Hostplus Cup matches for Northern Pride from 2016 until 2019, was player of the XXXX Foley Shield carnival and every night since has gone to sleep thinking of claiming this title on Saturday.

"It's pretty important," Day said. "Even after a few games in local league, some of the boys when we played each other, the first thing we'd speak about after the game is getting stuck into this game and looking after each other."

"We'll probably never get a chance to do this again... so I don't think we're going to leave anything out on the field."

For Day, the opportunity comes two years after he tore his biceps in both arms six months apart, which kept him to just a handful of FNQRL A grade games last year.

"The first one (right arm) was at training and the second one (left arm) was at a game and I knew I did it straight away because it felt like the first one," Day said.

"The surgeon said he's never seen anything like it before. I honestly think it was just bad luck.

"I had to have distal bicep surgery, so it took me a while to get back into the groove. But this year I've found my feet, it's been pretty good."

With the tough times behind him, Day hopes to make history for Cairns, playing his part in a game his side is treating as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to show off the region's might.

It would be extra special doing it alongside the likes of Davin Crampton, Taulata Fakalelu and Aaron Jolley, who have been alongside him for a number of representative battles over the years.

Then there's players such as Noel Underwood and Bradley Stephen, with their Cup experience and former Dally M winner Ben Barba, who not only bring skill but experience of dealing with the challenges of travel to make sure they're firing come game time.

Another talisman will be Zane Knowles, who joins the team at hooker with two games of Cup experience with Northern Pride under his belt this year.

He said he hoped to bring aggression to the middle and be sharp with the ball to allow players such as Day, Fakalelu and young gun prop Jason Hallie to get over the top of an imposing Brisbane forward pack.

Knowles missed the XXXX Foley Shield due to an enlarged spleen, but on return from injury was eager to earn a chance to play his part in the XXXX League Championship final tilt against Brisbane Red.

The 23-year-old, who plays for Ivanhoes, watched on from the Barlow Park stands and was quick to get into coach Jono Zangrande's ear to signal his intent to be part of chasing the ultimate prize.

It's a massive turnaround from not winning a game in the XXXX Foley Shield in 2022.

"It's pretty special, not to just me but to my family and that as well," he said.

"Hopefully all the boys are keen and excited. I know I will be."

The XXXX League Championship final at Logan Metro Sports Complex will be available to watch live and free on on Saturday, July 29, with kick-off at 6pm.


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Queensland Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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