Haak leads the Hawks out for milestone game
RUGBY LEAGUE: Gatton Hawks' Dominic Haak pulled on his jersey and laced up his boots as he had countless times before - but this game was different.
The Hawks forward ran out onto the pitch for his 250th appearance for the Gatton side on Saturday - a massive achievement.
Haak said it was a special moment.
"It was good - it's taken a while to get there but it was a good feeling, and all the boys got around me,” Haak said.
He started with the side when he was just five-years-old, and hasn't missed a year since, working his way up to A-grade.
Haak said it was the team and the club that kept him coming back year after year.
"It's the mateship really, we've got a good group down there and the club's great,” he said.
"My family has been involved in the club all the way through.”
With Goondiwindi having won against Wattles at home on Saturday night, this meant the Hawks had no chance of making the finals this year.
Instead, coach Shaun Hobson said the team ran out for Haak, with the veteran leading the Hawks onto the pitch.
"That was our motivation and the guys came to play for that,” Hobson said.
He said the milestone was something special.
"To play your 250th game for you club - the club you love and the club you played juniors for is a massive achievement,” he said.
And while the mighty Hawks fell short, going down 44-28, Haak shone.
"It was probably his best game of the year. He was very dominant in everything he did,” he said.
While many at the club hope to see Haak run out for the 300th time in the future, he wasn't so certain.
"I haven't really decided on next year yet, but I'll probably come around - it's hard to say no,” he said.
Hawks fall just short of finals berth, coach bids farewell to team
It wasn't the results the Hawks were hoping for.
Goondiwindi's defeat of Wattles 22-12 on Saturday night dashed any hopes of Gatton making a last gasp attempt to make finals.
But far from lamenting their loss, the Hawks came out firing against premiership favourites Valleys on Sunday.
Scores were tied 22-all with 28 minutes remaining and the Hawks had were digging in.
But Valleys lifted to another level and scored four unanswered tries to close out the match, defeating Gatton 44-28.
Coach Shaun Hobson said despite the loss, it had been a strong game from the Hawks.
"We were very pleased with the performance,” Hobson said.
"It was a good last game. It was unfortunate that we've pulled up short.”
With so little separating Gatton from a finals berth, Hobson couldn't help but look back to missed opportunities early in the season.
he said there were probably three or four games through the season that Gatton should have won.
He described missing out on finals as "gut-wrenching” for the whole squad.
Despite the end, there were positives to the season, with a number of U-18 players making their mark in A-grade.
Hobson said the young guns were the club's future.
He said consistency would need to be a focus of the Hawks moving to next season. "In a competition that's as strong as the Toowoomba comp, you need to be more consistent week in week out in order to get the results that you need to play finals football,” he said.
But the Hawks will have to make those changes without Hobson, with the coach taking a step back to spend more time with his family.
Club veteran Dominic Haak paid tribute to Hobson, and said he would be missed.
"We all wish him well, he's done tremendously in the two years he was here, and no one doubted his passion. He'll be sorely missed,” Haak said.