Wests Tigers will roar if they make NRL finals: Mitchell Moses
Chris Barrett - SMH
Wests Tigers hope a first sell-out at Leichhardt Oval in more than four years can help propel them to a playoff berth and five-eighth Mitchell Moses warns they won’t be there “to make up the numbers” if they sneak into the finals.
Not since round 15 of 2012 against the Sydney Roosters, when 20,327 were jammed into the inner-west venue, have the Tigers played before a full house at Leichhardt.
The capacity these days is only 18,600 and it is likely to be reached for the final-round match against Canberra if Jason Taylor’s men are still in the running to land a finals spot come Sunday afternoon.
For that to occur they need North Queensland, themselves seeking a top-four position, to beat Gold Coast in Townsville on Saturday night. If that transpires, the Tigers believe the Leichhardt factor can come into play.
“It will be massive,” Moses said. "It showed in the Cowboys game [when the Tigers defeated North Queensland 26-14 at Leichhardt this month] what a crowd can do, they really got us home and gave us an extra leg. You find that extra energy when having that kick-chase. Hopefully they can do it again this week and we get the win.
“Leichhardt is my favourite place to play at, crowd so close to you, and they get into their footy.”
The Tigers returned from Auckland on Monday after a thrilling win over the Warriors that kept their post-season hopes alive but it wasn’t all smiles. A virus has run through several members of the squad, sidelining Kyle Lovett from the game. Captain Aaron Woods was the latest to have fallen ill.
Also with the team was injured NSW Origin fullback James Tedesco and while there have been suggestions he could make a shock early return from a broken jaw this weekend, it is believed the earliest he could possibly suit up again would be week one of the finals.
The Tigers might be cast by many as also-rans if they make it that far but don’t tell that to Moses, who has emerged as a force for the club this season.
“We’re here to play footy, we’re not here to make up the numbers,” Moses said. “[Sunday is] up there with the most important game I’ve played in first grade. Hopefully the Cowboys get up and put on a show and get away with the win. We’ll just be worrying abut ourselves and Canberra this week, and do some video on what went wrong last time.”
What he is talking about is the 60-6 flogging the Raiders gave to the Tigers in April. While there will be analysis of that footage, the eyes of the Tigers will be glued to the game in Townsville on Saturday. They went through the same exercise with Penrith’s nail-biting win over the Titans last weekend.
“Some of the guys chose not to watch it at all,” Taylor said. “Some of the guys watched it. I found the second half 40 of the longest minutes I’ve endured the way Penrith were dropping the ball, but we can’t control that. All we can do is get ready to play Sunday. Even if we don’t get to where we want to with Sunday’s performance, we want our best performance of the season because playing a team fighting for the top two potentially, and these are the games we want to play in.”