CURRENTLY sitting just one win off third place heading into Round 24, Wests Tigers’ NYC side know that the prospect of finals football is well and truly alive this year.
And they’re determined to head into the finals with a strong run of form next to their name.
Having endured three tough games in a row against the Melbourne Storm, North Queensland Cowboys and Sydney Roosters respectively, Holden Cup hooker Manaia Cherrington saying that those three games gave the team a great taste of what to expect in the semifinals, and how to get the job done in a tight match.
“We definitely take plenty of confidence from those three games,” Cherrington said.
“Even though we only got a win and a draw from them, it’s shown [us] on the field that we can pull through and come out the other side.”
Handed the captaincy mid-way through the year following season-ending injuries to regular captain Nathan Milone and then stand-in Matthew Woods, Cherrington said that he was relishing the chance to lead the team each week, and learning plenty from it.
“It’s been a pretty good experience [leading the team each week],” he said.
“There’s a lot of pressure but it’s good for me to lead the boys around; hopefully I can step up come finals time and really lead from the front.
“I want to lead the boys to a premiership this year.”
“I want to lead the boys to a premiership this year..." — U/20's captain, Manaia Cherrington
Cherrington praised the Club’s forward pack in putting the team in a great position to mount a charge towards the finals, and affirmed that they’d be key in any charge towards the Holden Cup premiership in 2014.
“Our pack’s been awesome this year, and they just keep getting better,” he said.
“Dallas Graham and MC [Jordan Grant] have done a great job laying the platform — as has Matt Lodge when he’s been with us. Then we’ve got Daniel Rakvin and Hala Masila coming off the bench to give us some quick play-the-balls and things like that. I just run off the back of them and it’s really helped my game and our play as a whole.
“They’re going to be huge for us over the next few weeks.”
With three winnable games to end the year, Cherrington stated that the next few weeks presented the team with a great chance to head into the finals with a good run of form, as well as the opportunity to improve a few aspects of their game.
“We have had a few lapses in the last three weeks, so we’re looking to improve on that over our final few games during the year," Cherrington said.
"We seem to start really strong or get on a good run, and then suddenly drop our contact and let teams back into the game — we just can’t do that against teams in the semifinals.
“We need to get better at building pressure too.
"We’ve had a few times in the past month where we’re on the attack and we try to force a try, come up with an error, and then the other team go 100m and score a try.
“So I guess we’ve just got to be more patient and ensure that we complete our sets and do the little one-percenters right. That's what seperates the best from the rest..."