Wollongong Hawks captain Oscar Forman believes the stinging words of Townsville coach Paul Woolpert will have the Crocodiles in a vengeful mood tomorrow night at The Swamp.
The Crocs (8-16) have to win their final four games and rely on other results falling their way if they are to finish in the top four.
Third-placed Wollongong (11-14) are in much better shape and armed with renewed confidence after last week’s road win over Melbourne.
The Hawks romped to a 24-point victory over the Crocs when they met three weeks ago in Wollongong, prompting Woolpert to describe his team’s defensive effort as ‘‘horrendous’’.
Last week he was even more scathing after the Crocs were thrashed by Sydney.
‘‘I should never have to wonder what Townsville team is going to show up,’’ Woolpert said.
‘‘That should be a done deal, that we’re going to come out and fight. I am flabbergasted by that effort.’’
The Hawks are expecting the Crocs to respond to Woolpert’s blast.
‘‘Last time we played them Paul Woolpert gave them a rocket in the media, and it was the same after the Sydney game,’’ Forman said.
‘‘He came out and publicly said how disappointed he was with the team, so when that happens, teams usually look to rectify that in the next game.
‘‘We have to make sure it’s not against us. Hopefully he’s saying the same things after this game.
‘‘The big thing for us last time was our defensive intensity and pressure, and disrupting them up the floor to get them out of their offence. We did it well and it got us on a good run.
‘‘It stopped [Luke] Nevill and it stopped Gary [Ervin] to an extent. They came back by running ragged and hitting three-pointers, but we weathered the storm and went on for a solid win.
‘‘No doubt they’ll make adjustments, but we just have to make sure we stop their dangers and limit certain people, and from then on it’s just playing good, smart basketball.’’
Of their three clashes with Townsville, the Hawks have won twice at home and lost the other on the road.
If they can claim a third triumph over the Crocs, Wollongong will head into their final two home games against Sydney and Adelaide with a full head of steam.
‘‘There’s certainly no complacency,’’ Forman said.
‘‘We’ve had some good hitouts at training this week and everyone’s in good spirits after the road win. We knew it was a big game against Melbourne and we’ve got three more huge games coming up.
‘‘We understand how important this game is and it’s just making sure we’ve got our focus and preparation correct for everything.
‘‘They need to win every game to have any chance and they’ll certainly be looking to spoil our fun, so we have to make sure we stick to our plans and not get caught up in anything that takes away our focus.’’
The Hawks fly to Townsville this morning.