Wests Tigers Head Coach Michael Maguire said his side were excited by the opportunity ahead of them as they prepare for a must-win game against Cronulla on Sunday afternoon.
Having produced big wins in the past fortnight to keep their finals hopes alive, Wests Tigers can qualify for their first finals series since 2011 with a win against the Sharks at a sold-out Leichhardt Oval — something Maguire said the squad and club was excited for.
“This game is about winning and this club deserves to get into the finals," Maguire told reporters on Friday.
"It’s been through so much.
“It’s not about the pressure. I’ve said all along coaching this team that I have a real belief in this group. They’ve been doing all the work in the background.
"They’re extremely fit at this moment and this is the time of year you need that.
“I’m really confident with where the boys are at.
"It’s a matter now of making sure that, when they’re playing that game, they’ve got their focus right. There’s a lot of noise around it which is a great thing and it’s great to see my club in this position — it’s really exciting times.
“Our finals series has obviously started one week early because of the position we are in," he added. "I’m making sure I install a lot of the experiences I have had at prior teams to make sure our boys are ready to go.
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Coming up against the Sharks for the first time this season, Maguire said the result of Sunday's game was going to come down to how his side execute the "little things" against a desperate side in the same position as them.
“They’re a tough, nitty-gritty team," Maguire said of the visitors.
"They play well around at the ruck, but I’ve really focused around our team and what we need to do. We have really good momentum at this time and we need to make sure we use that.
“It might be a bounce of the ball, a tackle an effort — it’s all those little things as a group that will be key. Especially over the last couple months, the squad has worked hard at to put themselves into an opportunity.
“It’s now about trusting what they’ve been doing because they’ve been building on this for a long time. Week to week they turn up here, they do whatever I ask and more so now it’s time to use that.”
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Maguire didn't indicate whether Robbie Farah or Moses Mbye would be late inclusions for the game, but instead highlighted the strength of his side in recent weeks to getting them tp a point for a possible finals run.
“Robbie will be in the updated squad and I will be making more comments about that when we get closer to the game," Maguire said.
"I know what it takes at this time of year and you need 17 fit men on the park. Decisions I make around that are going to head towards that.
I know what it takes at this time of year and you need 17 fit men on the park. Decisions I make around that are going to head towards that.Michael Maguire
“He and I — it’s all about the team. It’s a do or die, it’s a must-win game.
"I have to pick the squad that I believe will go out there and get the job done.
“I have 17 fit men on the park that have been performing and I’m very confident in that group with the way they’ve been playing – I’ll make some decisions.”
Wests Tigers will provide an updated 19-man team to face the Sharks at 2:00pm AEST on Saturday before finalising their side one hour prior to kickoff.
Match: Wests Tigers v Sharks
Round 25 -
Venue: Leichhardt Oval, Sydney