The next two weeks will likely decide Macquarie’s season but coach Dylan Hill doesn’t want his players to be overcome by that pressure.
Instead, he wants them to completely relax.
The Raiders sit in seventh spot on the ladder and play the two sides directly above them, Westside and Nyngan, in the next two weeks.
“I one hundred percent believe we’ve got to win these next two to make top five,” Hill said.
“It will dictate how our season goes so we’ve got to get ourselves up for it.”
Hill is the first to admit this season hasn’t been what’s he’s wanted in his first year of coaching but he’s also not giving up on finals.
His belief in his players has never wavered, despite some internal issues at times, and he still feels the current side has the potential to be a top three team in Group 11.
“If we’d won a few games we should have won it would all be completely different,” he said.
On Sunday the Raiders play host to Westside in the latest of what has become an entertaining derby, and one with plenty of feeling.
A win in this game would move Hill’s men into sixth spot and Hill has told his players to have a bit fun on the field in order to make that happen.
“They’ve got to go out an enjoy it. I know it’s first grade but you’ve got to have some fun and don’t get so frustrated out there.
“Apisai (Lomani) will play at seven and he’s been playing well in the halves in reggies and he plays what he sees in front of him a bit more so that will help the boys.
“They need to go out there and enjoy it and play a bit of free-flowing footy.”
Lomani was a mid-season recruit from Fiji and after some promising showing in reserve grade he was given a chance off the bench in firsts, scoring a try at Narromine last week.
That wasn’t enough to stop the Raiders becoming the first team to lose to the Jets this season.
It was an all too familiar tale for Macquarie and Hill said his players would be sick of him talking about the need to improve discipline and cut out errors.
The opportunity to play some more free-flowing footy and get away from the structure a little is something Hill hopes can make that happen.
Ash Widders has been dropped for this weekend’s game, putting more emphasis on the side’s core group of young players.
The likes of Lomani, Jayden Merritt, Sam Thorpe, Blake Frost, Wade Peachey, Kane McDermott, John Ciappara and Dalton Medcalf remain relatively inexperienced at first grade level and the coach admits that group is still coming to terms with the top flight week in, week out.
Club president Ross McDermott said a similar thing earlier in the week when stating he had total faith in Hill and the work he was doing.
“I haven’t spoke to the club much about that kind of thing so for them to make it public was good to hear,” Hill said of the praise.
The derby action at Apex Oval on Sunday starts with league tag at 11am with the first grade clash expected to kick off at 2.30pm.