On the surface, Monday’s clash between Wests Tigers the Parramatta Eels — two days before the 2015 State of Origin decider — might not seem like a big deal.
But try telling that to Wests Tigers enforcer Martin Taupau, who knows not only is the game a crucial one for the Club heading into next week’s bye, it’s also a big chance for him to step up and lead the way with the Club’s Origin stars away on representative duties.
Last time both Aaron Woods and Robbie Farah were missing in Round 14, Taupau paved the way with a man-of-the-match performance to give Wests Tigers arguably their best win of the season — a 34-6 demolition of defending premiers South Sydney Rabbitohs.
And while the 25-year-old might not be talking up his vicious right-hand fend this time around, he knows just how important it is that he produces a similar effort to that night.
“It is a great chance for me this week to really step up again,” Taupau said.
“I take a lot of responsibility on myself having those two guys missing.
“It’s a must-win for us against Parramatta so I’ve got to step it up a gear.
“Especially trying to fill what Woodsy does, that’ll be a big test for the pack this week. There will be guys who come into the team now and do a bit more, so it gives them a chance to prove what they can bring, and that always produces the best in people.”
After just one win in the Club’s last eight games, Taupau said that the team was fully aware of the significance that Monday’s game had for their season, with next week’s bye making this week’s clash against the Eels essentially a “four-point” game. Which, with finals aspirations in mind, could prove crucial in the final few rounds of the season.
“There’s no doubting that this one is a must-win, and we know it’s a must-win,” he said.
“Every game is a must-win from now on, starting from Monday.
“We’ve got do to everything right at training and bring that on to the field. No excuses.”