DON'T WRITE OFF BROTHERS: WESTBLADE
By Les Muir
FORGET any notion of coasting over the last six rounds – Brothers’ coach Terry Westblade is adamant the team intends to play in the finals.
Setting a firm agenda, Westblade has declared Brothers can elbow past Albury and Temora and secure fifth place by the end of the regular season.
“We’re aiming to make the semis,” Westblade said on Wednesday.
“That is definitely the goal.”
Coming ahead of two critical games, Westblade’s bold statement will only heighten the intrigue over the remaining weeks of the competition.
Brothers are currently seventh on the ladder with 11 points, but just one point astray of Albury (fifth) and Temora (sixth) on 12 points.
In what is clearly shaping as a dogfight for fifth place, it is assumed a team will need a bare minimum 20 points to have the slightest hope of qualifying.
For Brothers, the equation is as simple as it is daunting – win five of their last six games or probably wind up on the scrapheap.
Rather than sidestep the issue, Westblade is confronting it head on.
“We play Albury and Tumut in the next two weeks, and they savaged us in the first round,” he said.
“Obviously I didn’t see either game, but I think we are a better side than what we were then.”
With Ben Black in charge, Brothers were thrashed 36-12 by Albury at Greenfield Park on April 8 and 50-6 by a rampant Tumut at McDonald’s on April 23.
Westblade was later appointed as caretaker coach when Black was sacked – and has managed to haul the team back into contention.
Significantly, Westblade’s ambitious plans for Brothers are hinged on reversing the results against the Thunder and Blues from earlier in the season.
Starting on Sunday against Albury at McDonald’s Park, Brothers will be out to shed their inconsistency tag by winning successive games for the first time this year.
Two weeks ago Brothers held off Temora 22-16 and are now coming off the bye.
“It would be nice (successive wins),” Westblade said.
“We have been a bit patchy.”
Westblade believes the secret to Brothers salvation is their improved defence.
“It’s got to keep happening,” he said.
At a time when other coaches are settling their affairs for 2018, Westblade said his future with Brothers was dependant on whether he “stays in Wagga”.