Wests Tigers five-eighth Mitchell Moses says the club can no longer use youth and inexperience as excuses as they attempt to end their five-year hiatus from finals footy.
Moses – who turns 23 later this year – is part of a talented, albeit very young spine that includes fullback James Tedesco (24) and halfback Luke Brooks (22).
The talented trio each have more than 50 games of experience under their belts, and according to Moses, it's time for the Tigers to become contenders again.
"We're not using the excuse that we're too young anymore," he said while on All Stars duty ahead of the game in Newcastle on Friday night.
"We've got a really good 17 that if we can keep on the park, we'll go alright this year. We're going to take a lot out of last year and learn a lot from what happened last year."
The Tigers surprised many to finish within one win of a finals berth in 2016, but it's their Round 26 shellacking at the hands of the Canberra Raiders that cuts deep.
A monster crowd of 18,634 packed into Leichhardt Oval to see their side take on a formidable Raiders outfit knowing that a win would be enough for the black and golds to sneak into the top eight.
However, those hopes were quickly extinguished as the Green Machine raced in five first-half tries on their way to a thumping 52-10 win condemning the Tigers to ninth spot on the ladder, just one point behind the Titans.
"We didn't turn up to that last game against Canberra at all so we're definitely going to learn from that," Moses said.
"It was heartbreaking. To go so close and to turn in a performance like that was pretty embarrassing. We got a massive crowd out there that day and to show them the quality of footy that we played was not acceptable. We'll look to go one better next year and hopefully make the semis.
"We got so close and didn’t come up with it so we'll definitely use it as motivation. We definitely don't want to be watching footy in September this year."
Before Moses can worry about that, the talented playmaker has bigger fish to fry with a showdown against his childhood-hero Johnathan Thurston looming on Friday night.
The 22-year-old enjoyed his first win over the legendary Cowboys halfback last season and wasn't afraid to admit that he was trying to copy parts of Thurston's game.
"We versed him last year at Leichhardt and we got one up on him. I always looked up to him when I was younger and I always try to base my game around him at the moment so it’s exciting," Moses said.
"The toughness that he plays with [is what stands out]. He's always digging right into the line and playing as late as he can, and he's always picking the right option.
"I think he plays with a lot of patience and he never goes away from something. If something doesn't work the first time, he's always trying to go back to it and pull it off, and I think that's a big thing."