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Hospital Cup 2022 Preview – Wests

Tue, 19/04/2022, 9:04 am
Reds Media Unit
by Reds Media Unit
Wests players Latu Talakai & Vilikesa Raboiliku
Wests players Latu Talakai & Vilikesa Raboiliku

2021 was a mixed year for the boys from Sylvan Road. They came out of the box firing with a commanding win over Brothers in their opening match in Round 2, but then lost to Souths the next week.

When Wests were on, they matched it with the best of the competition, but consistency seemed to evade the Bulldogs for much of the season.

The team built momentum late in the year and put themselves in a three-horse race with Bond and Brothers for the final two spots in the finals series. The Covid cancellation of Rounds 17 and 18 and the re-formatting of the finals series saw Wests lock in third place on the ladder, and they took on GPS in what was a belter of semi-final in-front of a raucous crowd at Yoku Road.

The Bulldogs dominated for most of the match but a last gasp effort from the Gallopers saw them claw their way back into the match and a Matt Gicquel try on the buzzer levelled the scores, before a Jason Hofmeyr conversion secured the Grand Final berth for GPS.

Despite the loss, Wests were buoyed by their performance in the match and with assistant coach Elwee Prinsloo stepping into the lead role this year, a new sense of belief is in the air at Sylvan Road. We caught up with Prinsloo ahead of Round 1.

2021 REVIEW

“2021 was a strange season with Covid and obviously a different play-off structure,” said Prinsloo.

“We were lucky to make it through to the finals on our win/loss ratio, but we started to play with more momentum in the second half of the season.

“The finals performance against GPS, we took a lot of belief from that game. It was a good performance, and many said we were unlucky to lose, not taking anything away from a good GPS side, but it will push the team harder this year.

“Overall, I would like us to win more games then last year and hopefully that lands us in a good position.”

2022 FOCUS

“Our focus this year isn’t a game specific thing. Our biggest challenge is our mental approach to the game and our ability to stay in the fight and perform in key moments.

“If you look back over recent years, there have been some very good Wests teams who have let themselves in key matches in this space.

“Our mental approach on-and-off the field is what we’re working on, tightening up standards and how we conduct ourselves.”

RECRUITS

Seru Uru – Easts Vilikesa Raboiliku – Norths Angelo Smith – Fiji Brad Kelegai – Souths

LOSSES

Shea Lalagevesi – Easts Rob Puliuvea – Hunter Wildfires John Martin-Sttewart – Hunter Wildfires Liam Usher – Doncaster Knights, UK

WESTS PLAYER TO WATCH

Vilikesa Raboiliku & Ben Navosailagi

“Vilikesa is a really good ball carrier and communicator, we’ve been very impressed with him. Ben Navosailagi is another to watch, he’s club captain this year and starred in that semi-final loss to GPS.”

OPPOSITION PLAYER TO WATCH

Pat Morrey (UQ) & Michael Richards (GPS)

“It’s hard to go past Pat, he is a gun. Pat and Connor Vest are very influential within the competition.

“Michael Richards is another, his line-out ability is second to none. He is a good human being and a great leader.

“Headaches if you’re against them.”

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