‘Being competitive hasn’t been a surprise to us’: Tagicakibau says belief is high in the Two Blues squad

Fri, May 20, 2022, 3:26 AM
Declan Armstrong
by Declan Armstrong
Western Sydney face ladder leading Eastwood this Saturday. Photo: AJF Photography
Western Sydney face ladder leading Eastwood this Saturday. Photo: AJF Photography

Season 2022 has been a success story so far for the Western Sydney Two Blues, their three wins across the opening seven rounds already bettering every season since 2016.

That early success has included a historical 27-19 victory over the Students and defeat of defending champions Gordon, clear signs of a Two Blues revival.

Western Sydney head coach, Sailosi Tagicakibau, says the early season success hasn’t come as a surprise.

“We’re in a good place, there’s some real belief in our squad that we can compete with the top end clubs,” he said.

“We know that this season is a journey and just as wins are important, backing up each week and staying competitive is instrumental to our growth.

“It’s a new group this year, so building a competitive nature in our squad through gameplay and training ensures we remain hungry in every contest.”

This competitive spirit has been evident in Western Sydney's defeats against West Harbour and Warringah, losing both by an accumulative of just 8-points.

Particularly impressive was Western Sydney’s two bonus points in their 36-29 loss to the Rats at Pittwater Rugby Park, a venue they suffered a 43-point defeat on their most recent visit.

All these factors indicate major Two Blues improvement in 2022, with the Western Sydney outfit aiming for a return to Shute Shield finals action this year.

“Even in the matches we’ve lost, we’ve always been in a position to win,” Tagicakibau said.

“What’s important to me is that the squad have been disappointed by these defeats, showing me that there’s some serious belief within our club.

“We know that if we remain competitive in every match, those narrow defeats will turn our way and that belief we hold onto will be rewarded.

“We never want to give up and our energy will remain 100% until the end of each game.”

Tagicakibau believes his side's resilience coming from a winless opening three rounds is a key indicator of their character.

“It was a tough start to the season, but the boys never lost belief because we knew we had the squad and skill to turn things around,” he said.

“There is a lot of belief in what we’re trying to build and that is helping lift us out of difficult stages throughout our season.

“The buy-in and commitment from our squad have been huge.”

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That belief will be integral to any success against Eastwood this Saturday, a club that the Two Blues haven’t beaten since Round 15 of the 2016 Shute Shield season.

Interestingly, the Two Blues had the Woodies covered that year, amassing a 22-19 victory over Eastwood two months prior.

Tagicakibau and the Two Blues camp will be hoping for a repeat of history in their two matches against the Woodies in 2022.

“They’re a physical side like ourselves, so weathering that storm and responding with our creative gameplay will be key,” he said.

“It’s our second straight week on the road, which is always difficult, but we showed against Warringah that we’re good enough to travel to these tough venues and grab positives from every match.

“If we can get up against them [Eastwood] tomorrow, it’ll give us a real sense of the progress we have made with this group.”

In Round Eight’s other fixtures, the Students welcome the struggling Rebels, West Harbour travels to North Sydney to face the Shoremen, Randwick and Warringah clash at Coogee Oval, Easts clash with the high-flying Wildfires and Manly look to bounce back against Gordon.

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