BLUES WON'T INTIMIDATE 'PICKERS: WOOLFORD
By Les Muir
STANDING firmly behind his battered team, Young captain-coach James Woolford is adamant the Cherrypickers are ready to pick up the pieces of their crumbling finals campaign.
A week after Young was humbled 48-4 by Gundagai at Anzac Park, Woolford has declared the team will not be a pushover for Tumut in the minor semi-final at Alfred Oval on Saturday.
“I’ve every got faith in the team to get the job done, and I don’t think there’s too much we need to change,” Woolford said on Thursday.
“We know there’s no next week if we lose.
“We’ve played well all year and the team doesn’t deserve go out without winning a game in the finals.”
Backing up his words, Woolford has stuck solidly with the players who have swept Young on a great ride this year.
Despite the landslide loss to Gundagai, and a 34-26 failure against Tumut a week earlier, Woolford has refused to make wholesale changes to the team.
Significantly, dashing lock William Scott has succumbed to the injury sustained against the Tigers and has been replaced by Tui Samoa.
“He’s (Samoa) very experienced and will do the right job,” Woolford said.
Aside from the loss of Scott, who has been a revelation this year, Young’s walking wounded will all take their places.
“Everyone else looks OK,” Woolford said.
“Sure, there are bumps and bruises, but at this time of the year you just don’t worry about them.
“Everyone will be fighting fit on Sunday.”
For Young, the prospect of being ditched from the finals in “straight sets” is an extra motivation to send Tumut packing.
No third-placed team on the ladder since Young in 2012 has failed to win a game in the finals series.
Woolford is fiercely determined history will not be repeated on Sunday, but is also patently aware of the massive task ahead of his team.
“They’re (Tumut) a good team,” he said.
“We know that from experience.
“They beat us two weeks ago.
“They’re a big physical team and this’ll be a tough game.”
Despite the presence of Tumut’s man-mountain Dan Kilian, Woolford says the Young forwards will not be intimidated.
“I’ve got faith in our pack,” Woolford said.
“I’ve got no doubt they can get the job done.”
Containing Kilian, and taking away the enthusiasm and energy he gives to his team-mates, has to be a prime objective of Young on Saturday.
It will be up to Kyle Richens and Aaron Slater to take the sting out of Kilian and the other big Tumut forwards, while others like Warren Aiken and Samoa must also rise to the challenge.
The pressure is sure to be on referee Jake White to keep a lid on what should be a volatile and explosive clash.
With elimination on the line, there will be no holding back and it seems highly likely the game could erupt.