Wellington Cowboys captain-coach Aidan Ryan describes Saturday’s Group 11 clash as one crucial to his side’s finals hopes and a range of community events on matchday has given the club even more motivation.
The Cowboys welcome Macquarie Raiders to Kennard Park in what is the club’s Quit B Fit Tackling Indigenous Smoking match.
Both club’s will be wearing special one-off jerseys which will be then auctioned off after the match at the Wellington Hotel.
As well as promoting the anti-smoking message, a huge range of items donated from the community will be auctioned off with all proceeds going to the Ryan Medley Appeal and also to the family of Grace Sharpe.
Medley remains in Sydney’s Royal North Shore Hospital after suffering a serious neck injury for Dubbo CYMS at Wellington last round while two-year-old Sharp is in Westmead battling a rare and aggressive type of cancer.
“You don’t like to see things like this and we just want to try and help as best we can,” Ryan said.
“We’re hoping to get a lot of people back for the auction for such a good cause. The money we raise can really help Grace and Ryan.”
Ryan, who works for the Wellington Aboriginal Corporation Health Service (WAHCS) and has also been promoting the Quit B Fit programs all over the state, said playing in the one-off jerseys will help motivate his side.
“People say jerseys are just something which is on you but sometimes they make you play better,” he said.
“It’s hard to explain but I think all the boys pumped. The jerseys look awesome and the boys are excited.”
In terms of the match itself, first year captain-coach Ryan has labelled it a must win for his side.
I think if we lose this match we’ll miss out on semis.Wellington's Aidan Ryan
The Cowboys sit in sixth spot, one behind the Raiders, having shown a huge amount of improvement this season after winning just once in 2016.
“This is such a crucial match,” Ryan said.
“I think if we lose this match we’ll miss out on semis. Macquarie has Narromine next week and we have Parkes and, I’m being realistic, if Macquarie win (both games) and we lose then they’ll be clear of us so it’s a crucial game.”
While proud to see his side being competitive again, Ryan is adamant his side still needs to improve further.
Morale boosting wins over Westside and Narromine have been beneficial for all invovled with the Cowboys club but results like that have been coupled with heavy losses to the likes of CYMS.
Ryan wants to see his side getting back to what it does best on Saturday and that means more ball out wide for his fast and powerful backs to capitalise on.
“Our forward pack isn’t very big but we score a lot of tries in our backs and we haven’t done that enough the last couple of games,” he said.
“I sat the boys down and said we need to get it to them more. They (Macquarie) have got some weaknesses so we want to target that.”
The action at Kennard Park on Saturday begins with the League Tag at 2pm.
After the matches, the auctions will be held at the Wellington Hotel.