St George Illawarra’s Tyson Frizell says Tuesday’s Anzac Day blockbuster with the Roosters will be the biggest game the Dragons play this season outside of the finals football they’re seemingly destined to take part in.
Fifth on the ladder, the Roosters are just one win adrift of the league-leading Dragons, making Tuesday’s clash one of the most exciting annual showdowns since the traditional rivals first met on Anzac Day in 2002.
The Dragons have enjoyed a 10-day lead-in into the match, plenty of time to dwell on a lacklustre second 40 minutes against the Cowboys last start that almost saw them surrender a 28-4 half-time lead before getting home 28-22.
It was one of the few hiccups Saints have suffered in a 6-1 start to their campaign, but Frizell said the wake-up call was a timely one ahead of arguably the most anticipated regular-season fixture of the year.
“It was a good learning curve for us,” Frizell said.
“I think we got a bit too complacent in that second half. We knew things were going to change around with the amount of possession and things that went our way in the first half.
“It was probably the best half we’ve played all season and I guess it was hard to back it up. We got a real scare there towards the back-end of that second half.
“We were pretty dominant for 55-60 minutes of that game but it just shows that any side in the NRL can come back and get you at the end.”
Barring a disastrous first half in their round two loss to Parramatta, such efforts have been few and far between for the Dragons and Frizell said that consistency remains the buzz word for his side.
“The massive word around the camp has been consistency, not just winning games but in our effort and in our performances,” Frizell said.
“We wanted to find consistent footy and after that Parra game I think we have, other than the back-end of that second half last week. I think we’ve brought that and the more we can do that the more games we’ll win.
“When guys are playing well it brings others along with them too, so it’s awesome to see the confidence within the group.
“There’s no doubt we’ll go through some tough times as well but hopefully we can keep building that confidence, particularly this week, which is going to be the biggest game of the year other than semi-final footy for us.”
Frizell has played in the last four Anzac Day encounters, one of which came against teammate and former Rooster Nene MacDonald in 2015, a dramatic clash that was halted for 30 minutes due to hail and torrential rain.
“It was the first game I’ve ever played in where there’s been a stoppage like that because of hail,” MacDonald said.
“It was obviously memorable in that way but it was a massive game for me. When I was coming through the Roosters playing [under] 20s, you’d always hang around and watch first grade and just think ‘how good would it be to play in this game?’.
“When I did eventually get to play in it, I remember being out there on the field standing in line listening to the anthem and I just had goosebumps.
“It was one of the most incredible feelings I’ve ever had, just looking up and seeing that full crowd of people all silent. It’s something I’ll never forget.”