Loose forward Juan Manuel Leguizamon will follow a select group of Argentines to have played in four Rugby World Cup finals after he was named in the country’s 31-man RWC squad for next month’s tournament in Japan.
Warringah will carry sentimental favouritism when they line up against reigning premiers Northern Suburbs in the Shute Shield final on Saturday.
The Rats have just a lone premiership in their 54-year history but even that comes with an asterisk, the 2005 trophy won in an abridged competition.
It has been an emotionally tumultuous season for Warringah with the tragic death in June of lower grade player Lachlan Ward – brother of first grade captain Sam.
“I have been coaching professionally for 17 years and I have never wanted to win anything more to be honest,” said coach Darren Coleman.
“It is not for me or for my CV. It is just wanting to give a little bit of happiness back to the Ward family, and I know a lot of the boys are saying the same.
“There is a core group of players that have played for the Rats for a long time, and coupled with the tragedy faced this year, it is quite a powerful tool around emotion and unity of purpose.”
Warringah will be at full strength with flyhalf and two-time Catchpole Medal winner Hamish Angus set to make a timely return after missing the past three weeks with a quad strain.
Coleman will endure a busier day than most with a training session lined up for his NSW Country Eagles side on Saturday morning, ahead of next weekend’s opening to the National Rugby Championship.
Both Coleman and Norths counterpart Simon Cron are tipping a tight contest.
Norths won 28-26 with an after-the-bell conversion early in the season, with Warringah victorious in the recent return match, 18-11.
They have over half their squad backing up from last season’s grand final victory over Sydney University, a result which ended their own 41-year drought.
It will be Cron’s final match at the helm before taking up a position with the NSW Waratahs’ coaching staff.
The grand final promises to be a gala occasion at North Sydney Oval, with close to 5,000 tickets pre-sold and the potential for a full house at the 20,000-capacity venue.
Sydney’s northern beaches have got behind their local team in recent weeks with 11,000 spectators on hand for last week’s derby win over Manly at Pittwater Park, while some 20 buses have been booked for the season decider.