Boom Wests Tigers centre Esan Marsters said a reminder from coach Ivan Cleary of the added responsibility that comes with being an international set the stage for his dominant performance against South Sydney on Saturday night.
Marsters achieved a career goal when he represented New Zealand in the Denver Test. Cleary used a pre-game chat with his right centre to remind him such a mantle meant he now needed to take his club game to another level.
Marsters did just that in the win over the table-topping Rabbitohs. He opened the scoring before setting up David Nofoaluma for another try. His game stats of 144 running metres and 45 post-contact metres played a major role in the upset win.
"One of my goals this year was to make the Kiwi's and I achieved that," Marsters told NRL.com.
"Ivan spoke to me during the week and said that I'm a Test player now - he wanted me to take it to another level so that's what I tried to do.
"Ivan and myself came to agree that I need to be more consistent in my performances. I can't just have one good performance and then the next week have a quiet one."
Top 5 Plays of the Week – Round 19
Cleary got on the bus - to use the club's popular phrase - early in the 2017 season when he brought a team-first ethos which has resulted in the side playing their best footy in years.
Marsters also praised Clearly for the influence he's had on his game.
"As a coach, I think he's really proud of what we are doing and knows we can create something special here," Marsters said.
"All of the boys have bought into what he's brought here.
"He's helped me a lot with my game. I think he sees that potential in me and I appreciate what he has taught me in the game."
It was just a few weeks ago that Wests Tigers hit a slump, losing four in a row before a much-need bye in round 17 was followed by a marked improvement. Wins over the Dragons and Rabbitohs were thoroughly deserved.
Marsters put their victory against South Sydney down to identifying the Bunnies' strengths and coming up with a plan to shut them down.
"We were pretty confident after we beat the Dragons last week and that resulted in us maintaining that high going into the Rabbitohs game," Marsters said.
"It came down to our preparation throughout the week and knowing what they were going to throw at us.
"We did a lot of video on them and we knew that their strength was out wide, which is where they score most of their tries.
"As an edge player myself, as a centre I wanted to get up in their face and be a bit more aggressive because I think some of the other teams have been a bit more passive with them."
Coaches Speak – Round 19