THE Panthers Toyota Cup side were pipped 18-16 by the New Zealand Warriors last Sunday but the Toyota Cup Coach of the Year, Garth Brennan, flew back to Australia with total admiration for his troops' gutsy effort.
What were your thoughts on full time?
I was really proud of the guys. It was a real determined effort. We were down on troops and there's no tougher road trip then going to New Zealand so to get beaten by only two points and to be in a position at the end to win the match, I really felt for the guys because they really deserved the result.
Heading into the finals, what did you take away from the game?
Real positives out of the fact the boys dug in and worked well for each other. We have to win another game to guarantee top eight but I know if we keep putting effort in like last weekend, the result will come.
Which players impressed you with their individual performance?
Fullback Kieran Moss was good again. Prop Sam Hollis was captain for the first time and I thought he really stood up. He was a fantastic leader.
How important is it to get a big win over the last-placed Titans?
Any win would be nice. I'm not too worried about the scoreboard. I'm just worried about the effort and attitude the boys show. The Titans are a dangerous side and every game is a contest. You've got to turn up physically and mentally and this weekend will be no different for sure.
Can you believe it's the last home game of the season?
It's flown, hasn't it? And that's the other thing — it's the last time we play at home this year and we want to play well for our fans and supporters and let them know we appreciate all the support they've given us throughout the year.
How much did it mean to be named coach in the 2012 Toyota Cup Team of the Year?
It was a real honour but I was quite embarrassed considering the calibre of coaches that are in the NYC. It's quite humbling to get the award but I'd swap it all for a Panthers premiership in the '20s this year. I owe it all to the players, they do all the hard work, I'm just enjoying the ride.
How pleased were you to see Vaipuna Tia Kilifi named as a second-rower in the Team of the Year?
I wasn't surprised. If there's a better back rower in the NYC I haven't seen him.