Gordon blocking out Sharks departure
Parramatta-bound Sharks fullback Michael Gordon knows each game he plays could be his last alongside his Cronulla teammates but tries to push those thoughts to the side out on the field.
Gordon came close to moving across to the Eels mid-season at a time when his minutes were being chewed up due to interchanging with Ben Barba, while also knowing he was not in coach Shane Flanagan's plans beyond 2015.
The Eels were desperate to replace Jarryd Hayne, with Will Hopoate not having worked out as a fullback and Reece Robinson filling in either side of an injury layoff with a fractured cheekbone.
The Sharks opted against releasing Gordon at the time but the 31-year-old has arguably ended up with the best of both worlds, eventually securing a deal with the Eels for next year and featuring in this year's finals series with Cronulla.
"It's hard, you don't want to think about it but at the same time – I try not to let the emotion get to me," Gordon told NRL.com after the 2014 wooden spooners knocked out the 2014 premiers South Sydney in an elimination final at Allianz Stadium last Sunday.
"Towards the back end of a game it might cross my mind once or twice but at the moment no, I'm still thinking I've got a few more games yet. We slacked off in a couple of periods here and there [against Souths] and I was just glad we stuck to it at the end there."
Despite the knowledge his Cronulla career could finish with each game he plays, Gordon said there is no added motivation to win from any self-focused viewpoint – rather it is "all about the team" while he's on the field.
"If I can do my job the best I can for the team then hopefully we'll get a win and keep the games going. It's something I don't really think about on the field, when it happens it happens," he said.
Gordon himself has been in vintage form since cementing his immediate playing future earlier in the year, but he said anything he has achieved lately is down to the work of his forwards.
"It's been going well as a team so I suppose that makes my job easier. When everyone's doing their job it makes it easier and I can sort of chime in," he said.
"[The forwards] have been fantastic all year and when they're doing their job it makes it a lot easier for us other boys out wide. I've had a few opportunities that they've created and I'm trying to do my best for the team."
Gordon nominated his old Penrith teammate Lachlan Coote as the man, alongside Dally M favourite Johnathan Thurston, to most threaten the Sharks' title hopes in Townsville on Saturday night.
"They're always tough up there with players like Thurston and Cootey," Gordon said. "They've got quality across the board."
Gordon also hoped hard-running Sharks prop Andrew Fifita would be better for a run after playing his first game in six weeks.
"He's a quality player, you'd rather have him out on the field than on the sidelines, he's better for blowing out the cobwebs today and hopefully he'll be bigger and better next week," Gordon said.
He was also impressed with the way young stars like Jack Bird and Valentine Holmes had dealt with their first NRL finals series so far.
"They've been aiming up all year and it's no surprise they're doing it again in the semis," he said.
"They've just been working hard, hopefully they keep at it and it will keep happening for them. They're just full of confidence and I don't think the occasion really gets to them which is what you need at this time. It's great to see young blokes doing well."