After a tough loss to the Newcastle Knights last weekend, Wests Tigers forward Ava Seumanufagai says the forward pack is ready to stand up and take on a strong Cronulla Sharks side desperate to keep their top-four hopes alive on Saturday.
With Martin Taupau (suspension) and Chris Lawrence (injury) already on the sidelines, the Club's forward rotation took another hit last week when Aaron Woods and Dene Halatau both succumb to injuries early in the match. As a result, Seumanufagai played a big 52 minutes off the bench — chalking up 38 tackles, a linebreak and over 100 metres — but couldn't quite get his side over the line against a resilent Knights outfit, going down 24-18 in the end.
Yet this week, with both Woods, Halatau and Lawrence all named to return from injuries and Taupau returning from suspension, the 24-year-old says his side are well-prepared to do battle against a Sharks pack that includes several big-name players.
"A lot of us boys had to step up and I think we did a good job," Seumanufagai reflected.
"It was unfortunate we couldn't hold the ball and go set-for-set.
"I think we learned the importance of completing our sets last week.
"It's a good challenge [when you lose players. I like a challenge, so if someone gets injured and there's more game time for myself, I'm happy to put my hand up."
"But it's great to have those guys back on deck for us this week," he said.
"Rowdy [Chris Lawrence] has a lot of experience and Marty has a lot of muscle and brings great impact, so definitely looking forward to have those boys back."
Seumanufagai also emphasised that his side — and particularly the forward pack — were going to need to be at their best against a dangerous Sharks outfit.
"They've got a really solid front row," he said, "and some skillful front-rowers too.
"They've can offload as well, so we've been working hard this week to make sure we're wrapping the ball up and not allowing them the chance to keep the ball alive.
"I think myself and the boys are definitely looking to improve over the last three weeks, and continue the improvements — particualrly in defence — we've made recently."
See what Seumanufagai had to say in full about this week's game in the video above.