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Friday, May 14, 2021

Nicoll-Klokstad motivated by grand final heartbreak ahead of Roosters clash

Coming into this weekend’s do-or-die 2019 grand final replay against the Sydney Roosters, Canberra Raiders fullback Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad said he’s driven by his side’s heartbreaking loss in last year’s decider.

“It’s a really big motivating factor for me personally. We’ve spoken about it as a team and as individuals,” he told Canberra Weekly.

“Those chances don’t come up often … It’s a burning desire, the ultimate goal as a player.”

But he warned getting past the Roosters into a preliminary final against Melbourne will require a better start than what the Raiders conjured up on the weekend against Cronulla.

The Green Machine went into half-time down 14-10 having made nearly twice as many tackles as the Sharks and only sharing 35% of possession.

“We didn’t play to our standards and that showed in the scoreline and the amount of tackles we ended up making,” Nicoll-Klokstad said.

“Everyone was pretty frustrated with how we started the game … We had to turn it around pretty quickly.”

Coming up against the Roosters, who are renowned fast starters, Nicoll-Klokstad said setting the pace early in their do-or-die clash will be imperative for a Green Machine victory.

“There’s no doubt we’ll be able to come home strong, but we can’t put ourselves in that position where we have to claw back after 20 minutes,” he said.

“We do have a pretty good game plan against the Roosters but it’s about us putting it into play, it’s about what we do and what we can control, and we’ve got to start fast.”

Relishing his second year as an NRL fullback, Nicoll-Klokstad said individually he’s set out to continue adding strings to his bow with regard to his ballplaying, support running and defensive positioning – drawing inspiration from former Warriors teammate Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and the man he’ll line up opposite this weekend, James Tedesco.

“For me it was just about maintaining what I thought I did well last year and then just adding stuff to my game,” he said.

“I can’t say that I am where I would want to be, but I feel like I’m tracking in that direction so I’m pretty happy … I’m really proud of myself just looking at past games and seeing how far I’ve come.”

Off-field, Nicoll-Klokstad said while living under the NRL’s Apollo protocols has been restrictive in terms of enjoying his time away from the game, conversely, he’s appreciative that he still gets to do what he loves.

“We were pretty much locked up in the house and only allowed out for essential stuff, so you’re missing out on a lot of stuff with your kids,” he said.

Enjoying his second year at the Raiders and second year living in Canberra, Nicoll-Klokstad said he’s grown to love life in the national capital.

“As a player coming through the junior systems, I always said I would never move to Canberra … but it really suits where I’m at.

“What we’ve got here growing as a team and with the community backing us as well, it’s pretty special … I really do love Canberra,” he said.

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