You don't care if you're running first. This is about next year. What ...
5 days ago
Watch out for revenge-seeking Cowboys is the message coach Tim Sheens is telling his Wests Tigers players ahead of the NRL grand final.
Sheens told the Tigers the 50-6 qualifying final victory over the Cowboys three weeks ago would count for nothing come kick-off on Sunday.
But his Cowboys counterpart Graham Murray said the massacre wouldn't play any part in his side's build-up.
Sheens has made sure the Tigers are fully aware of the Cowboys ability to bounce back from a big loss.
The third-year Tigers mentor has written the scores 50-12 and 29-0 on his whiteboard just to illustrate the point. They represent the Cowboys last two performances against Parramatta. One was a hiding at Parramatta Stadium back in round nine, the second is Sunday's form reversal at Telstra Stadium which brought the Eels' season to an abrupt end.
"On my board in there is 50-12, 29-0, it doesn't take much," Sheens said.
"The things about football this year ... it doesn't matter what you do two weeks ago, five weeks ago.
"It was only three weeks ago we got beat by Penrith and the week before by Melbourne and we were written off.
"(The Cowboys) were written off after one game, they've won two great games to come back.
"It means nothing what we did three weeks ago. Absolutely nothing. It's what happens this week."
While his Tigers side is riding high now after upset wins over the Cowboys, Brisbane and St George Illawarra in consecutive weeks, Sheens said the team still didn't consider itself a premiership favourite.
He said their struggles towards the end of the regular season against Melbourne and Penrith would help guard against complacency.
"My guys understand a few weeks ago we were brought down to earth and told if we made the semis we'd be just in and out, we'd be cannon-fodder," Sheens said.
"That's not that far away in their memories."
When questioned today about their last meeting with the Tigers, Murray said he had "nearly forgot about it".
The Cowboys had a video session after the loss to the Tigers in which a few home truths were told, and what ever was said obviously worked. Since the match they have rebounded with convincing wins over the Eels and Melbourne in the last two weeks.
Tigers skipper Scott Prince said the Cowboys were now playing more like the side which dominated through the early rounds of the premiership after receiving a second bite of the cherry following their early finals pummeling.
"I suppose they were taken aback by the first game we played them, but they've got a second chance now and they've absolutely run with it," Prince said.
"They've played two good sides in the Storm and Parramatta last week and they're playing some good footy."
"The Cowboys showed that a week in football is a very long time.
To turn it around against the Melbourne Storm that's great on their behalf and three weeks is like an eternity in football."
While North Queensland has been abuzz since the Cowboys arrived home on Monday, the first signs of grand final week hype hit Sydney on Tuesday when the Tigers held their first open training session.
Players and staff were kept busy for over two hours as they answered questions from the media, while the afternoon training session coincided with the Tigers fan day that drew a crowd of over 2000 to their Concord Oval training base.
Sheens said the club would take extra precautions this week to guard against his players getting too caught up in the hype.
"We'll try to control it as best we can with the media and with the hype that comes with grand final week," he said.
"It's a bit difficult because we are the only Sydney team."
"It's how you handle it and we've been doing that now for a month.
"Again a grand final is a different kettle of fish, although every game we've has just about been sudden death.
"They've played under that pressure, but they've handled that pretty well."