Plenty to gain for clubs

Tom Boyle will return as a forward. Picture: PETER MERKESTEYN
Tom Boyle will return as a forward. Picture: PETER MERKESTEYN

THE Steamers face a season-defining clash when Griffith front-up at Murrayfield today.

The defending premiers have the unwanted tag of being involved in the upset of the decade when beaten by the previously winless Leeton.

But the All Blacks come to town with their own reputation in tatters — the one-time flag favourites have lost their last three in a row, star fullback Dan Rawaqa hurting his hamstring on rep duties last weekend.

The Steamers will welcome back Tom Boyle and Dan Hogg in the forwards.

Hugh Erwin comes into the “cursed” halfback spot, Oscar Ramsden stays in the centres, while English import Brandon Lewsey will make his debut in the second XV.

Coach Mick Raynes believes the Steamers are about to turn their season around.

“There is a good vibe at the club — perhaps those two losses helped us re-focus,” he said.

“Griffith will come here believing we are beatable and on recent from who would blame them.

“Both sides are in a similar position — on paper, line-ups brimming with talent but neither are putting it together.

“But we sense the players are starting to believe in themselves, believe they are on the verge of something special.”

Raynes said he was looking to more than just winning the game.

“We want to see the players back themselves and maintain ball security,” he said.

“If we can build some self-confidence, get that belief going we will give this a shake.”

Despite recent failures the Steamers look set to qualify for the second round, six-team top tier of the competition.

But Griffith’s future is not so clear — presently fifth in a dog fight between five sides separated by four points.

Steamers captain Nathan Bright believes his side will rise to the challenge today.

“There’s no doubt that it feels like we have our backs against the wall a bit at the moment, between injuries and confidence we’ve had a rough ‘trot’,” he said.

“The only way out of such a rough trot will be hard work and self belief, both of which we are more than capable of.”