Their loss in last weekend's major semi-final was disappointing enough but that was compounded by the news inspirational skipper Nigel Staniforth is in doubt for Saturday's Blowes Clothing Cup preliminary final against Cowra.
Staniforth was carried off Bathurst's Anne Ashwood Park in the 55th minute of last weekend's 23-21 loss to Bulldogs and is now racing the clock to recover from what's said to be a medial ligament problem which is, potentially, a season-ending injury.
The actual extent of the injury is unconfirmed though and with that in mind Emus coach Pete Bromley didn't speculate too much, but said he's certain Staniforth will be doing everything within his power to be fit for Saturday's do-or-die final at Endeavour Oval.
It's obviously always a concern any time your captain [injures] his knee close to the end of the season.Emus coach Pete Bromley, on skipper Nigel Staniforth
"We'll wait and see how he is (during the week), it's obviously always a concern any time your captain [injures] his knee close to the end of the season," Bromley said.
"He'll be iced up and doing everything he can to recover, we'll just have to see whether he does recover in time for next weekend or for, hopefully, the grand final in two weeks' time.
The multiple-time Shute Shield champion has battled knee injuries in the past and should he not recover in time it will be a huge blow for the greens, considering he's arguably been in career-best form in 2019, his efforts rocketing him into player-of-the-year contention.
"He is one of those players you can't really re-create. Whenever you lose a player like Nigel it makes a difference because of his talk, his leadership, his direction from the back, he's the captain for a reason," Bromley said.
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He did make a point of highlighting the fact Staniforth coming from the field wasn't the decisive moment of last weekend's loss, but rather Emus' lack of discipline proved costly as a Will Oldham penalty goal 13 minutes after that ultimately proved a match-winner.
"That's not what decided [the major semi-final]. Louis (Carr) did a really good job after he came on," Bromley said.
"(Lack of) discipline was something we knew Bulldogs would feed off if we gave them the chance, and they did. We [were good] for 60 minutes and then a couple of penalties, Will (Oldham) doesn't miss many kicks unfortunately for us and we paid the price."
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While earning another crack at Bulldogs in the grand final is driving Emus, Bromley said with Saturday's preliminary final looming large the side will put that potential rematch out of their minds now.
"Our focus is now completely on next weekend against [Cowra]," he said.
"It's a case of needing to get back to playing positive footy ... it's not a case of having 14 days to prepare for [a grand final] because we've got a job to do, with or without Nige."
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