Simply forcing the series to a decider and putting up a fight isn’t good enough in the mind of NSW five eighth Jamie Soward who says winning is everything at Suncorp Stadium tomorrow night.
Soward has been surrounded by success at club level over the past couple of seasons and that type of mentality, especially under the coaching of Wayne Bennet is a welcome inclusion into the NSW squad.
Soward admits himself that he was a little bit flat in game one, however it was the appraisal of his team as a whole which surprised him the most.
“The thing for me out of game one was that we came back to a lot of ‘well done, you almost won’ and that didn’t sit right with me,” Soward said.
“We got a lot of pats on the back for the effort we put in and it was a great effort – we defended set after set on our line – but at the end of the day we still lost.”
He picked himself up for game two so the series and he played a starring role, it was no surprise that NSW as a whole was vastly improved as well.
When Ricky Stuart actually took over the role a few months ago he was quoted as saying claiming at least one win would be enough for his ‘long term plan’ for the side.
While players are expected to follow their coach, Soward won’t even hear of it and he’s a driving force behind the entire attitude change from the coach down.
They now have a genuine winning belief that runs squad wide and the coach could learn a thing or two from the premiership winning five eighth.
It’s not a one man show, just look at how many dragons are in the squad and it’s no coincidence that mentally the Blues are so much stronger.
In reality NSW could give plenty of credit for their new found success to a Queenslander, Wayne Bennet.
“After 2009, it was a pretty big year for the Dragons and we had a huge disappointment at the end – from that moment on, the guys at the Dragons really took on the belief that getting there is not enough, it’s not winning,” Soward said.
“And that’s the mentality that this group’s got – close enough will not be good enough.
“I’m with a bunch of blokes here who can really do something special, and we all understand the importance of that, and how important it is not only for ourselves but for NSW.
“We know the job at hand and now that it’s one-all, we’ve got to go out there and play better than we did in game two.”
There’s no doubt Soward’s biggest weapon is his boot but it was something that was barely seen in game one.
He more than doubled the metres in game two and that directly put NSW in better field position and allowed them launch more sustained attacks on the Maroons line.
“That was the criticism of game one, that it took me a while to get into the game,” Soward said.
“Game two it was important to get in there, I had a kick in the first set and I had a touch early.
“But it’s not always going to go that way, and if it doesn’t on Wednesday I’ll have a couple of plans in place with Sticky (Stuart) to make sure I am in the game.”
Stuart has continued trying to play mid games even a day out from the game as he refuses to name a final team of 17.
There’s little doubt the team already knows who’s in and out and Stuart has admitted hismelf he’s well aware of who will be playing.
Luckily for the rest of us the off field garbage can stop tomorrow night and the players (who ever they are) can finally sort it out on the field.