By Trent Thomas
Illawarra Cutters lock Shannon Wakeman understands the importance of the upcoming NSW Cup Preliminary Final against the Newcastle Knights at Leichhardt Oval on Sunday.
The Cutters qualified for the fixture after overcoming the New Zealand Warriors 29-12 in last round in a tussle that saw Wakeman cross the stripe twice with the initial try coming from a 50-metre dash.
Wakeman has welcomed the timely addition of nine players from the first-grade ranks of the St George Illawarra Dragons which he admits has lifted the team’s morale in recent weeks.
The winner of the upcoming fixture will progress to the NSW Cup Grand Final and will face either the Wentworthville Magpies or Penrith Panthers.
“I’m really happy that the team have managed to progress so far into the finals to be honest,” said Wakeman.
“We have been in a rough patch the last few weeks but managed to find some form and got the win against the Warriors.
“I have scored a few doubles in my time but not since I was a lot younger.
“These days I am just happy to get one every now and again so to get a double is a nice surprise.
“We have gotten a lot of boys back in recent weeks from the Dragons which has really lifted the morale for the entire team and I can’t wait for this week against the Knights.
“Everyone knows the importance of this match with the winner playing in the Grand Final so it will come down to whoever has the best discipline and luck on the day.”