Let’s blow rivals’ minds: Saffy

St George Illawarra prop Jarrod Saffy (second from left) shows some speed during a sprint at training in Wollongong yesterday. Picture: SYLVIA LIBERSt George Illawarra prop Jarrod Saffy believes landing psychological blows on their premiership rivals now will be the key to avoiding a repeat of last year’s finals fade out.The Dragons play six teams that are well into the finals hunt before the play-offs start in September, beginning with the stuttering Gold Coast Titans at Kogarah on Friday.The squad and coaching staff have gone to extraordinary lengths to monitor workloads and training regimes to ensure the spectacular collapse in last year’s title campaign doesn’t recur. Full coverage of the Dragons Saffy claimed the Dragons were ready to lift a gear to maintain their momentum in the face of opponents scrambling to secure a finals position.”I think it’s important for the form of your team going into the finals, regardless (if) it’s a top eight team or whoever you play,” he said.”You want to be playing well and doing the little things right, so when you come into the finals, you’re winning games and doing those things correctly.”I guess beating the top eight teams and getting in the finals knowing we beat them four weeks ago sits in the back of your mind.”However, Saffy said losing to Parramatta in last year’s qualifying final a week after beating them in round 26, remained a stern reminder about maintaining their intensity.”We beat Parra and lost to them the next week, so we can’t really take anything for granted,” he said.This season is South African-born Saffy’s last chance to win an NRL title before joining Super 15 rugby union franchise Melbourne Rebels.The Dragons welcomed back NSW State of Origin centre Matt Cooper, who has recovered from a hamstring injury, as well as Kiwi international second-rower Jeremy Smith after overcoming a calf problem.Smith has been named on an extended bench, with Mark Gasnier to come off the interchange again.Saffy said the hard-fought victory over South Sydney last Friday was a massive shot in the arm to kick-start their campaign towards a second successive minor premiership.”It’s great the belief,” he said.”Believing in your teammates and your team and what you’re doing,” he said.”We sort of just stuck together and hung in there and it paid off in the end, no-one panicked.”St George Illawarra tackle an eighth-placed Gold Coast without NSW star Greg Bird and Queensland lock Ashley Harrison at WIN Jubilee Oval.The Dragons then face Brisbane (seventh) at Suncorp Stadium, Manly (sixth) and Souths (ninth) at Kogarah and the Roosters at the Sydney Cricket Ground in the remaining rounds.Their other games are against the Raiders – still in the finals hunt – at Canberra Stadium and the struggling Newcastle Knights at EnergyAustralia Stadium.Saffy’s front row teammate Matt Prior claimed the Dragons were preparing themselves to take on some desperate opposition trying to secure their finals positions in the coming rounds.”Everyone is going to want to be playing their best football at this time of year to get into the semi-finals,” he said.”It’s the most important part of the year.”
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