Taylor holds out Tigers NRL finals hope

Wests Tigers coach Jason Taylor is optimistic his side can pull a rabbit out of the hat and qualify for their first finals series in five years.

The Tigers come into Sundays do-or-die clash with the Warriors on the back of consecutive losses to the Panthers and Titans but have won seven of their 10 preceding NRL matches.

The Warriors have produced a similar run of form, losing two matches on the trot after nine matches undefeated in the 80 minutes.

Both sides sit on 24 points and must win Sunday’s encounter in Auckland, and hope the eighth-placed Titans lose both of their final two matches, to sneak into the finals.

Taylor brought his side across the ditch a day early to prepare for the match and hoped it would pay dividends.

“Regardless of whether we’re alive or not, we want to represent this jersey in the best possible fashion every single time we run out there,” Taylor said.

“We’ve got two games to play and want to finish them off strongly, if it gives us a chance, then that’d be great.”

In team news, Tigers back-rower Chris Lawrence has travelled with the squad to New Zealand but won’t take part in Sunday’s match due to a knee injury.

The 27-year-old Australian international will be replaced by Curtis Sironen.

Fellow second-rower Kyle Lovett is also unlikely to play after being bogged down by illness during the week, with Michael Chee Kam to take his place on the bench.

Veteran Dene Halatau will play his last ever NRL match on Kiwi soil at dummy half, while David Nofoaluma has been moved to fullback to combat the Warriors kicking game.

“He’s been doing such a great job for us on the wing that we wanted him to do more of it,” Taylor said.

“On the wing you retrieve those long kicks from time to time but at fullback it’s your No.1 job.

“We just wanted to get him some more ball.”

Taylor said his whole side would need to be on song to topple the Warriors mammoth forward pack and hard-running outside backs.

“It’s just about dealing with that size and defensively, for us, it’s a massive area,” Taylor said.

“We know the Warriors are going to be up for it, as will we.”

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