Two proud Bull Sharks mums will watch their daughters run onto Suncorp Stadium to play in the biggest game of the year on Sunday - but deep down they’ll be wishing they were out there too.
If not for a horror run of injuries, Tara Reid (mother to Shannon Symon) and Rosie Suemalo Aleki (mother to Jaya Whyte) would be lacing up their boots alongside their talented offspring.
Instead, the pair of battered and bruised mums will be watching from the sideline as Bond University take on Easts Tigers in search of the Bull Sharks’ first QRU trophy.
Just thinking about the occasion sparks waterworks for Tara Reed who has been pivotal to the development of her teenager Shannon Symon.
“Just the way she’s been performing - it makes me emotional speaking about it - it’s been awesome to watch her grow and be there beside her,” Reed said.
“There have been some stressful moments on the field where she has looked to me for guidance but she has the skills and the attributes to be able to do those things herself.
“There is only one game left for the year and she’s going to regret it if she doesn’t give it everything.”
For Symon, the thought of playing on the hallowed turf of Lang Park is helping quell her nerves.
“It will be amazing to say I have played at Suncorp Stadium. The All Blacks have played there and it will be cool to say I have played there as well.”
Her mother’s words of wisdom will be ringing in her ears: “Go out there, believe in yourself and just go for it.”
Fellow mum Rosie Suemalo Aleki will also be a spectator after breaking her fibula and damaging tendons in her leg four weeks ago.
Suemalo Aleki and daughter Jaya Whyte drive two hours from their home on Bribie Island twice a week to train at Bond which is testament to their commitment to the side.
“All the hard work that everyone puts into everything has made the group have faith in each other - they just never give up. If you are down, they pick you up,” Suemalo Aleki said.
Injury aside, she is also dealing with feelings of envy over missing out on playing at Suncorp Stadium.
“I had a dream to play at Ballymore and I managed to achieve that, then my goal moved to Suncorp. That was my aim to play on that field and now my daughter gets to do it. I’m really proud of her,” she said.
2022 marks Whyte’s first year in premier grade and she never imaged playing in the Grand Final at such a famous arena.
“I’m nervous. The closest I have come to a game at Suncorp has been as a ball girl. Being able to play on the actual field is very exciting.”
Her mum credits the mix of ages in the squad for creating a family-oriented team.
“When you have those older heads in the team you have the experience to help the younger ones coming up through the ranks,” she said.
“It’s lovely to see the respect from them to trust in the older ones to listen and guide them.
“There are about five of us known as the ‘aunties’ in the crew. It’s funny listening to the kids call us that,” Suemalo Aleki said.
The team also features two younger mothers- Lucy Lockhart and Ebony Griffin.
Sunday’s grand final begins at 11am.