Wollongong Hawks wary of Crocs' bite


Dave Gruber fires off a pass to a Hawks teammate against Cairns at WIN Entertainment Centre last Saturday.Picture: GREG TOTMAN

Dave Gruber fires off a pass to a Hawks teammate against Cairns at WIN Entertainment Centre last Saturday.Picture: GREG TOTMAN

The play-offs may be out of the picture for Townsville, but Hawks big man Dave Gruber expects the impending retirement of Russell Hinder to fire up the Crocodiles on Friday.

After making close to 350 appearances in the NBL, Hinder will give the game away at the end of this campaign.

The former Sydney Kings and Western Sydney Razorbacks veteran joined the Crocodiles in 2008 and will play his final match in Townsville on Friday.

Gruber believes the farewell will supply the Crocs, who are out of finals contention, with the necessary fuel to push the Hawks to the wire.

"He is their leader so we always have to account for him and we expect the rest of their team will probably rally to send him off in his last home game with a bang," Gruber said.

"We will just have to be ready for it and hopefully we can change that."

Gruber praised Hinder for the immense role he has played throughout his extensive career in the competition, but wasn't prepared to become lost in the veteran's celebration.

"We are under no illusions of the challenge in front of us. We are going to have to come out hard and come out smart," Gruber said.

"Last time they came out and got us on their home floor and played really well so we are going to have to see if we can change that."

In that Townsville clash the Crocodiles handed Wollongong a convincing 80-67 defeat.

But the result served as the catalyst for a massive turnaround for the Hawks, who went on a 5-0 run before falling to Cairns last Saturday.

"Sometimes when you get beat like they beat us up there it is kind of a wake-up call," Gruber said.

"Similar to the Cairns game, we thought we were up to the challenge and they came on our home floor and really disrupted us in a few areas.

"Although it was close, we didn't get over the line so it just brings you back to reality and let's you know you can't take any games for granted.

"It doesn't matter what the records are, every game in this league is close so if you take one night off you get beat.

"To not do that, everybody has got to show up and try and get over the line."

The Hawks are sweating on the fitness of high impact import Kevin Tiggs for Friday's clash.

Tiggs has been training with the squad throughout this week and is likely to make his return from a knee injury.


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