Wests Tigers Premiership Winner Benji Marshall says there's a noticeable excitement in his side at the moment as they prepare for a sudden death clash against the Sharks this Sunday — a winner-takes-all clash to determine the 2019 NRL Finals.
The winner of Sunday's game between the eighth-placed Cronulla and ninth-placed Wests Tigers will confirm the teams for this year's finals series, with the hosts keeping their dreams alive after recent big weeks over the Knights and Dragons.
A man who has been there all before and will captain the side this weekend, Marshall said there's been an exciting lift in energy this week as the prospect of a first finals appearance since 2011 inches closer for Michael Maguire's men.
"It's just a must-win game and it's not going to be easy," Marshall said.
"For us, it's been do-or-die for the past couple of weeks anyway so we just need to adopt the same mentality as those games.
“What I have noticed is the energy around the group this week is really buzzy abut the excitement around the possibility of semi-finals football.
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"For our club and the fans, they haven’t had this feeling for a very long time, so the excitement of that has added to us wanting to give our club that opportunity again."
Man of the Match in each of his side's last two victories, Marshall said Wests Tigers would head in to Sunday's game full of confidence and knowing they can keep their attack going against a desperate Sharks side.
"The beauty for us is we've been playing a brand of footy in the past couple of weeks that's sort of finals footy," he said.
"We've been completing high and grinding out teams and it's going to be no different this week.
“When you look at Cronulla’s side, they have a lot of strike around the park and one of the best forward packs around the park. Their outside backs can do a lot of damage so we’re going to need a big game and to turn up.
"If we can keep the same attitude we’ve had the last couple weeks and not fall into the trap about playing at Leichhardt... we need to turn up and make it happen.
"We have to get there and have the right attitude," he continued.
"We have to make it happen and bring the crowd in to the game to make it uncomfortable for the competition. We have to give them reasons to get up on their feet and cheer."
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Still yet to make a decision on his playing future, Marshall said the decision would take a permanent back seat to his side's push to the finals.
“There’s no deadline around a decision for me and that’s very important because I think the focus for our club and for our team needs to be about this game this week," he said. "It's not just a decision you make and everything's sweet. You've got to weight up family life and what it's going to take for me to be able to play.
“But this week’s not about me and whether I’m going to play.
"It’s about the excitement for our club potentially making the semi-finals for the first time since 2011 — that’s more important to me then whether I play or not.”
“It excites me that it’s exciting for our fans because I know how painful it’s been. As a player you play to win competitions and I haven’t had that feeling since 2005."
Match: Wests Tigers v Sharks
Round 25 -
Venue: Leichhardt Oval, Sydney