We’ve had a pretty decent season at Wenty and it’s been a great effort for us to finish in the top four but hopefully our best is yet to come. After a full regular season and two finals matches spanning almost seven months, our clash this week against Penrith will make or break our year.
Like other clubs would no doubt have experienced themselves, our roster has been disrupted at various times of the season. It’s been really challenging to gain consistency and continuity with injuries and with players being called-up to first grade and it’s nice to make it this far into the year. The best teams, though, overcome difficulties like that – and they excel when the finals kick-off.
We had a good, tough victory last Sunday at Leichhardt against Wyong and it’s really pleasing to make it to the Preliminary Final stage of the VB NSW Cup. We know we didn’t perform well against the Knights in Finals Week One but we know we can beat those top sides – we’ve beaten the Knights earlier this season – and no team is our Achilles heel. Against Newcastle in the first week of the finals we had our opportunities – we just didn’t take them. It was really pleasing for us to turn that around against Wyong last week.
Our opponents this week, Penrith, are a great side but I genuinely believe we can beat them. They finished 10 competition points clear of all the other sides in the competition and as a result they will probably enter the match as favourites. Rugby league is a funny game – anything can happen. I’m really confident in our team and I’m confident our best will be good enough to see us progress to the 2014 VB NSW Cup Grand Final.
The Panthers definitely have some threats, though – and we have to be on our game, particularly defensively. They have some good halves in Tom Humble and Luke Capewell, and they’ve got some big, strong forwards too. They’ve also got some great attacking threats out wide in the Naiqama brothers. The Panthers are just a really good side and they’ll be a great challenge.
Personally, I’ve really enjoyed this season. Obviously it was disappointing to lose my first grade spot at the start of the year, but I’ve moved on and I’m really determined to give my all for Wenty. When I got dropped by the Eels I was incredibly frustrated but eventually realised I could either kick stones or focus on playing good footy and proving myself. That’s what the NSW Cup is about – providing that pathway for players to make the NRL. Hopefully I’ll be back playing first grade in 2015… after a good finish to the year with Wenty in the VB NSW Cup.