DETERMINED: Kangaroos hooker Zac Graham in action against Temora earlier this month. Picture: Les SmithAVOIDINGthe wooden-spoonis just part of the motivation for slick Kangaroos hooker Zac Graham in the last month of the Group Nine season.
Kangaroos are already languishing in 10thspot on the ladder, but there is a serious danger of the team finishing on the bottom of the Group Nine table for the first time in a decade.
With four games to play, Roos need a minimum of one win – and other results to fall their way – to have any chance of sidestepping last place.
Roos have not collected the wooden-spoon since 2008 – and Graham doesn’t intend to let history be repeated this season.
The 20-year-old hooker, however,revealed the ignominy of being part of the worst performed team in the premiership was not the only incentive.
“I want to give Hally (Adam Hall) a bit of a send- off,” Graham said.
“He’s done a lot of for the club in the time he’s been here and doesn’t deserve to go out like that.”
After three years as captain-coach, Hall announced last month he would finish up at the end of the season.
Hall took Roos to fourth on the table with 24 points in 2014 and achieved a similar result – fourth and 24 points – last year.
Amid high expectations at the start of the year, Roos have managed only two wins (plus two byes) in 14 games to be sitting on eight points.
Significantly, Tumbarumba and Brothers, who are also on eight points, each have the benefit of a bye in the final four weeks.
Heading into a challenging game against Young at Alfred Oval on Saturday, Graham is patently aware of the numbers.
He is also confident Roos can defy the odds and spring a couple of upsets between now and Hall’s departure.
“Definitely mate,” Graham said.
“I’m sure we can win a couple of games at least.
“We’ll have a few blokes back this week.”
Ravaged by injury and suspension to “key players” during the year, Roos face a testing stretch to wind up their campaign.
In rapid succession, the Wagga team will play Young (fourth), Junee (third) and Southcity (first) before dicing with Tumut (eighth) in the last round.
Starting with the Cherrypickers on Saturday, Graham remains optimistic Roos can rise to topple the teams in contention for the title.
“We have to start by putting it together on the training paddock this week,” he said.
“We’re a much better team than we’ve shown.
“Everyone has to step up.”
Despite the inconsistent form of some of his team-mates, Graham has been ultra-reliable – and invariably one of Roos top performers.
Blessed with lightning speed, Graham is an attacking weapon, but also a ferocious defender.
As Hall ponders his future, Graham is also unsure of his plans.
“I’m not certain at the moment,” he said.
“Most probably I’ll be Roos, but I’ll wait and see.”
Retaining Graham for 2017 – and beyond – has to be a priority as Roos head into a new era.
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