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Captain Ugle out to create more history with ThunderSaturday, September 23, 2017 - 4:20 PM - by Chris Pike

GERALD Ugle might not have had the individual season he hoped in 2017 but the fact that come Sunday evening he could be a dual premiership captain at Peel Thunder could more than make up for that.

Ugle is now in his third season with Peel and his second year as captain and while he feels he can do more to impact games personally, it's hard to imagine how the move to join the Thunder could have turned out much better.

As a talented youngster from Perth, Ugle was part of the inaugural Greater Western Sydney Giants team in the AFL and did play three matches before returning to the Demons in 2014.

But he was after more and felt that Peel Thunder would provide him what he was after as he signed in 2015 largely to play alongside Leroy Jetta who was returning to the WAFL after his AFL career with Essendon.

The result has seen Ugle now play in Peel's only ever eight finals in the history of the club starting with losses in 2015 to West Perth and East Perth. Things then turned around markedly last year with wins against East Perth, West Perth, South Fremantle and Subiaco on the way to the historic premiership.

The Thunder have again beaten South Fremantle and Subiaco in the first two finals of 2017 to move straight into this Sunday's Grand Final against Subiaco at Domain Stadium having had the week off last week with the Lions beating South Fremantle in the preliminary final.

Getting to be such a significant part in Peel's history now having played in all eight finals and being premiership captain last year, and now being about to lead the Thunder into another Grand Final on Sunday mean that there's no way Ugle could have asked for more from the move.

He has still had a solid season as a small forward playing every game in 2017 averaging 12.6 possessions and kicking 19 goals.

While he does expect more out of himself, getting to become a dual premiership captain on Sunday would more than make up for it.

"My season hasn’t been as good as I would like this year, but it's good to be winning games and playing finals football," Ugle said on 91.3 SportFM.

"I still have a lot to work on over the next couple of years to try and get the best out of myself, but hopefully I can have a better year personally next year and I hope I can play my best game of the season on Sunday when it counts. 

"It's been a pretty up and down year for me but I'm happy to be getting ready for another Grand Final and I'll focus on playing well in that."

Not only does Ugle hope to create more history with Peel by leading them to a second straight premiership, but he feels honoured to be about to play on the last ever football match at Subiaco Oval.

"I'm really pumped for Sunday and I'm looking forward to it. It's a big honour to be playing in the last Grand Final there," he said.

"Subiaco Oval is a great venue so to be part of the last game is a great honour and I always enjoyed going down to watch AFL games there when I was growing up. 

"It's going to be different now at the new stadium but it's an honour to play on Sunday and hopefully we get the win to be the last winners there as well."

Without question Ugle's leadership and captaincy has continued to grow and develop over the past two years and he gives a lot of credit to that for learning from veteran on-baller Rory O'Brien who returned to the Thunder last year.

Nervous wait for O'Brien ahead of back-to-back premiership chance 

While O'Brien has his own things to worry about this week with wife Ebony yet to go into labour for their third child that was initially due to arrive on Wednesday, Ugle can't speak highly enough of how much his presence the last two years has helped his own leadership develop.

"He has been great for me personally and I look to him for a lot of advice on the training track and with the way he prepares, and goes about it. I'm doing as much as I can to sponge off him with how he prepares and trains, and his leadership on game day as well," Ugle said.

"He gives me a good chop out with the leadership and he leads by example so he's great. It's good having him as a mentor and we have a good leadership as well with Blair Bell and Corey Morris. Rory has been great and a lot of the younger boys look up to him around the club as well. He's a top bloke as well."

Another player Ugle is looking forward to running out alongside on Sunday in the Grand Final against Subiaco is Leroy Jetta.

The pair originally joined Peel together in 2015 and were a big factor in the club making a WAFL finals appearance for the first time. But Jetta missed all of 2016 through suspension stemming from his time in Essendon.

He returned in scintillating fashion in 2017 before a knee injury threatened his season, but he got back in time for the finals and now Ugle can't wait to share Grand Final day alongside him.

"Leroy has been great up forward for us and I love playing alongside him with some of the things he can do," he said.

"I try to work together with him as much as possible and he's another bloke who didn’t get the opportunity last year so I'm really hoping we can get the job done for blokes like him who missed out on the Grand Final last year. He is keen to go on Sunday and hopefully he has a great game."

Ugle is also looking forward to seeing key forward Matt Taberner continue his ominous form as a key forward in the Grand Final on Sunday.

"It's great having him up forward. He works so hard around the ground and when the ball is in our 50," he said.

"He isn’t just clunking marks, he's putting on forward pressure too which is good from your big key forward. He is having a great year when he's down with us and he had a few good games up in the AFL. I think his form over the last couple of weeks leading into Sunday has been great."

Ugle will also be watching on keenly the AFL preliminary final on Saturday as the GWS Giants take on Richmond. He still feels a connection with the Giants and would love to see them reach their first AFL Grand Final.

"I still support the boys and I appreciate where they've come from. When I was over there they were based out of an RSL club and I went over a couple of years ago and to see their facilities now is amazing," Ugle said.

"To see them having some success over the last couple of years has been great and hopefully they can get the job done this year. One of my close mates is Nathan Wilson who will be playing on Saturday and I wish him and all the boys all the best. Hopefully they can go all the way."