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11 hours ago
They are rank outsiders for the National Rugby League clash in Auckland tomorrow night, but the Wests Tigers are planning to give the New Zealand Warriors a big fright, says hooker Robert Mears.
"This will be our last hit-out, and we would like to see the season out on a winning note. It will make the off-season a lot better to go into," Mears said yesterday.
The Tigers have had a disappointing season and are out of finals contention, being currently 13th of the 15 teams in the competition.
They were convincingly beaten last weekend by the North Queensland Cowboys, but Mears said they had trained with plenty of enthusiasm this week.
"Obviously, the Warriors are in good form so we've got to be on our toes. They're going to try to fine-tune things and get ready for the semis and if we get a chance to beat a side that is going to be in the semis, it's a nice little cap in our belt."
The Warriors are currently in sixth place on the points table and can finish either fifth, sixth or seventh before the finals, depending on their own performance and results from other key matches.
While they have been disappointing, the Tigers have still accounted for top-eight sides the Bulldogs, the Roosters, Newcastle and Brisbane during the season and would love to add the Warriors to that list.
Although the Warriors have beaten them the last two times the teams have met, the Tigers have a 4-2 lead on them in overall encounters.
Mears, a Warrior in 1999 and 2000, said he was looking forward to tackling a few of his old mates on the field.
"I keep in touch with Wairangi Koopu and was speaking to Wai today and giving him a bit of stick and he was giving me stick. He's had a good year Wai. I told him I would be looking forward to packing down with him."
Mears, 28, said the Tigers would have to be at their best to counter the return of key Warriors playmaker Stacey Jones, who returns from a groin injury for this match.
"He's one I am certainly going to have to watch on the weekend."
Mears said he was happy with his own form and was looking forward to another year with the Tigers.
Awen Guttenbeil is captaining the Warriors in his 100th game for the club, with skipper Monty Betham and prop Jerry Seuseu being rested to allow them to get over niggling injuries.
Tigers prop Jim Skandalis will play after being cleared yesterday for a dangerous throw, with either Chris Heighington or Bryce Gibbs to drop off the 19-man bench.