Wests Tigers Coach Ivan Cleary said it was important for his side to cap off their progress in 2018 by delivering a victory in Thursday night’s season finale.
Tipped to run last at the start of the season, Cleary’s side will miss finals football after results on the weekend didn’t fall their way, but could still end the year with a winning record — potentially becoming the first team since the 1999 Canberra Raiders to register 13 wins and not make the top eight.
While not hiding the disappointment of missing the top eight, Cleary emphasised that his side were keen to finish off their growth in 2018 by delivering a positive performance against one of the title contenders.
“Obviously we would have liked to have been there in the finals,” Cleary said.
"But you finish where you deserve [and] we’re just outside the eight.
"In years gone by, with this many wins we might have been able to get there but not this year.
"It’s about finishing the year off positively; we’ll be able to do that if we play well against South Sydney.
“I think we’re definitely finishing ahead of where everyone thought we would,” Cleary added.
"But we’re not finished yet, and we’ll reflect on it a bit more after the season is over.
"What we are focused on is finishing really well tomorrow night. The boys have trained well and while it was disappointing at the end of last week, they’re keen to end off on a good way.
“We’re playing a good team in Souths who are playing in the finals, so it’s just about putting on a good show for us and finishing the season off well.”
The playing futures of both Robbie Farah and Benji Marshall will no doubt continue to attract plenty of attention over the next few weeks as the Life Members weight up their respective decisions of playing on in to 2019, with Cleary adamant that neither player would be rushed in to making a decision.
“I would like them to stick around but I’ve said before it’s difficult because it’s a big decision,” he said.
"I’m quietly confident they’ll stick around, but I totally respect their decision.
"There’s no official timeframe at all.
"I think we’re definitely building a good foundation here and you need that because it’s a tough competition. You don’t just click your fingers and all of a sudden you’re a top four team.
"It does take a bit of time, but I think the club is definitely going in the right direction.
“And having the calibre of those type of players being with the club is only a good thing.”