Canberra blowout Tigers' blessing in disguise
No club is ever thankful for losing a game in the NRL Telstra Premiership, but sometimes a heavy defeat is necessary to turn a season around.
The Tigers headed into their Round 8 clash with the Raiders on the back of five straight losses – albeit fairly tight defeats – and the mood in camp suggested they were still on the right track.
That all changed in the nation's capital as they were trounced 60-6 in a performance that threatened to send their season spiralling out of control.
According to the playing group, the 54-point hiding did the complete opposite.
"No loss is needed but when you get a blowout you really take a good look at yourself," Grant said.
"When you're just in games and not winning them, there's no glossing over it. We're in the business of winning football games.
"When you're losing by two, four, six, eight or whatever it may be, you might gloss over the little things, and I think the Canberra game might have pulled us back to reality a little bit.
"I think the Canberra game was one out of the bag. The losses we had before that weren't blowouts or anything like that but the game against Canberra wasn't good enough for our members and fans."
Injured Tigers skipper Aaron Woods admitted to feeling helpless as he watched his suffering teammates from the sidelines.
"I was hurting for the boys," the prop said.
"I would have loved to have been out there to try to help them – I felt like I sort of dogged it a bit by not being there.
"It hurt more than anything to not be out there with the boys. You do all the training throughout the pre-season and to not be able to help the team hurts.
"They played on the Saturday, came in on the Monday, they did a bit of video – you didn't want to watch it – they all assessed themselves. They flushed it to the back of their heads and they ripped in at training."
Woods said the short preparation leading into the Round 9 clash against the Rabbitohs was a good thing as it forced the players to forget about the previous weekend's result.
Instead of focussing on the negatives, the Tigers set about devising a game plan to end the losing streak against fellow strugglers South Sydney.
"It was a tough week after the Canberra game but I suppose the best thing about that was that it was a short week where we played on the Thursday," he continued.
"I think we'd lost six in a row. If we had lost one more I think it would have been another club record. It's not a record you want against your name. The boys dug really deep against Souths and had a really good performance."
Tigers five-eighth Mitch Moses said the pain of losing 64-6 to the Cowboys in 2014 helped him prepare for what was always going to be a rough week at training.
Despite being a late scratching himself, Moses watched on as his teammates produced their gutsiest 80 minutes of the season to record a crucial 30-22 win.
"It was tough but I've been in a loss like that before. I think we played North Queensland up there one year and it was a similar score. You've just got to move on from those things," the 21-year-old said.
"It was lucky that we had the quick turnaround so everyone got over it pretty quick. We knew it wasn't up to our standard so we knew that if we stuck to what the game plan was we'd come away with the win against Souths.
"It was a massive performance missing 'Woodsy', and Tim Grant. All the boys dug deep. You could see in the footy they were frustrated from the way they played the week before and everyone was putting in for each other."
Moses said the team was looking forward to the challenge of taking on the Bulldogs this weekend, especially given their impressive results against the blue and whites in 2015.
The Tigers ran out convincing 38-14 winners when the sides met in Round 8 last year after going down in golden point a month earlier despite leading by 18 points midway through the second half.
"It seems we always play good against the Bulldogs. They've got a massive pack so if we can match them in the middle then I think we'll be alright," he forecast.
"They probably haven't been happy with some of their performances this year. It's always a good game against the Bulldogs."