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David Nofoaluma celebrates a try.

Coach Michael Maguire is adamant the Wests Tigers are still a genuine finals chance despite being three wins behind the top eight with five matches in hand.

Many critics declared the Tigers' season over after last week's disappointing loss to the Warriors, in which fullback Daine Laurie broke his leg, but Maguire believes they're in control of their fate.

They can move to four points behind the seventh- and eighth-placed Raiders and Knights, both of whom have already played in round 21, with victory over the struggling Bulldogs on Sunday.

The Titans and Sharks (both on 18 points) are yet to play.

"I wouldn't say that [the finals are out of the question]. I think that the competition is wide open," Maguire said on Saturday.

"[Winning] last week would have been handy, but this is another week where if we take some harsh lessons about not completing at certain times or kicking the ball into the corners and creating pressure ... we can get a really positive outcome.

"I go back throughout the season and I've seen some really good passages, whether it was against Penrith, St George and Newcastle.

"We've had some really good performances of long periods playing the style we want. If we identify those throughout the game at a higher level, we can get some really positive football."

Bulldogs v Wests Tigers - Round 21

While Maguire is "not satisfied" with his team's results and said they must improve, he is confident in their potential.

"The season's a funny one. It's sort of ebbed and flowed and we've got two or three or four teams right at the top, but there's plenty of footy to be played," the 2014 premiership-winner said.

"I'm a big believer that if your group comes together in the right manner and the belief about each other, then you can create what you want to create. So it's in our hands."

And despite the disheartening fashion in which they went down to the Warriors, Maguire has been buoyed by their preparation.

"We've had a positive week, we've had a long week to be able to reflect, we've had some really good training sessions," he said.

"We're all chasing the right results, but what I have seen this week with the boys being in isolation [is them] getting around each other. We need to be really positive about what we face tomorrow.

"The boys are very capable in the way they can play. It's about being in the systems and doing it over and over and putting a lot of pressure on the opposition. That's the key to the game."

Maguire wasn't drawn on reports that Sharks prop Aaron Would could return to Concord in 2022, quipping: "I reckon you guys [in the media] would be half a chance of getting a contract here at the moment with everything that's linked to our club.

"But at the moment, for myself it's about coaching this group and building a real belief within what we're doing."

Mbye hits and spins his way to a try

Meanwhile, Canterbury coach Trent Barrett is excited for 19-year-old Bailey Biondi-Odi, who re-signed for two years on Thursday, to start in the halves for the first time in the NRL.

"We just need him to play his role. He's a good little player, Bails. He's a natural half. He's done a good job off the bench for us at hooker and I think he's provided little a bit of spark," Barrett said.

"We don't want to heap a lot of pressure on him. I'm confident he'll do a job. He's trained really well, the players enjoy playing with him and get a lot of confidence with him there."

Bulldogs rookie Bailey Biondi-Odo.
Bulldogs rookie Bailey Biondi-Odo. ©Scott Davis/NRL Photos

Biondi-Odi's elevation came at the expense of Kyle Flanagan, who has been dropped during a turbulent season.

But Barrett said the 22-year-old Flanagan is still part of his plans.

"He's only young – all our young players go through ups and downs as halves," Barrett said.

"There's a lot of pressure that comes with that jumper and that number on your back. It's always been that way."

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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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