Elrich: Backs against the wall

Electrifying wing-back Tarek Elrich speaks ahead of the Hyundai A-League 2010 finals series.

If there-s one thing that the Newcastle Jets pride themselves on it-s their self-belief and will to win when the odds are stacked against them.

This tenacious spirit will be on display once again this Saturday evening when the Hunter-based club take on glamour outfit Gold Coast United at Skilled Park in week 1 of the finals. Courtesy of finishing in sixth place, the Jets will have to play every match of the Hyundai A-League 2010 Finals Series away from home in order to qualify for their second Grand Final in three seasons.

But despite this challenge, the 2007/08 champions remain confident heading into Saturday-s sudden-death play-off.

“The twenty-seven games you play through the season go out the window and it-s just up to you on the day and the better team will hopefully win,” dynamic right-back Tarek Elrich said.

“We-ve beaten them twice at home, but we lost to them up there with a short turnaround when we played a midweek game. Hopefully with a week of preparation and when we can get all our players on the pitch we can get a result.”

Speaking to www.newcastlejets.com.au ahead of the Jets- fourth finals series in five seasons, Elrich explained that all of his teammates, particularly the returning Nikolai Topor-Stanley (hip), Sean Rooney (calf), Jin-Hyung Song (hamstring), Jobe Wheelhouse (hip) and Labinot Haliti (suspension), will be primed for the contest.

“At the end of the day it-s finals football and I think the last thing on your mind is injuries. I don-t remember a day or a game when I felt one-hundred-and-ten percent, you-re always carrying little niggles, or you-re tight, or carrying corks or what have you.”

“That-s part of our sport and that-s why we are professional athletes because we play through those pain barriers,” the 23-year-old said.

Indeed, far from seeing the underdog status that the Jets have been handed by pundits as a negative, fan favourite Elrich is relishing the opportunity to take on United in their own backyard and views it as an opportunity to reverse the Jets- recent form.

“Let all the other teams take all the credit and all of the media spotlight, we like to lay low-key.”

“When the odds are against us we tend to produce. I don-t want to jinx us but hopefully we can go out there, take each game as it comes and obviously play every game as if it-s our last so hopefully we can turn it around from four losses to four wins,” he said.

Match Details: Saturday, 20 February 2010 Gold Coast United v Newcastle Jets Skilled Park, kick off 7.00pm local (8.00pm AEDT)