THEY have appeared in four of the last five NSW State Cup men’s open finals, but Western Suburbs welcomes the underdog tag.
Coach Tony Trad compared the State Cup to the Melbourne Cup – but was the first to admit they wouldn’t be on the first line of betting when the 2018 event tapped off.
“You can sit there and have a look at form lines and say this team’s your favourite, this one is your $5.50 favourite and this one is your $8.50 favourite,” he said.
“But you can always back that some team is going to come from nowhere and threaten come the finish line because it’s one of the toughest and best tournaments in the world without doubt.
“If I had to put odds on, I’d say we’re probably 11 or 12 to one.”
Trad has been at the helm for two decades and says it’s important for his team to focus on the process.
The rest will look after itself as they aim to clear the final hurdle and rid themselves of the bridesmaids tag despite fielding a youthful side this weekend.
“We’ve got a couple of really good players out and have been forced to bring in a couple of 17-year-old’s,” Trad said.
“So it’s a case of next man up.”
Doyalson, Parramatta, Penrith and last year’s champions Hornsby appear to be the four teams to battle it out.
Wests had a strong Vawdon Cup season where they finished third, only to be eliminated by Bankstown in the quarter-finals.
As a result, Trad felt his team had a level of confidence that made them capable of surprising everyone come Sunday afternoon.
The coach said they had learned the most difficult lesson of all the hard way last year when a piece of brilliance from Hornsby’s Dylan Hennessey put his side in front.
“We clocked off literally for 30 seconds and they scored the winning touchdown with a minute and a half to go,” he said.
“When you play at this level and when the competition is that close, you have to be in the contest for every single game for every minute.
“When you step on the field you’ve got to be in the contest and if you’re not prepared to play for the full 30 and be in the grind you’re ultimately not going to get the rewards.”
When asked if the disappointment of the last five years was starting to play a negative role on his team’s mentality, Trad said it hadn’t been discussed.
“There hasn’t been a lot of talk because you could say we’re chokers because we’ve lost four of the last five,” he said.
“Or you could say we’re consistent, are the number one team in the state over the last five years and we’re due.
“We’ll enjoy the challenge and see how we go this weekend.”
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