Canberra veteran Sia Soliola said some of the Raiders have sat through the emotionally torturous 80 minutes of last year's grand final in a bid to try and purge it from their memories.
The Raiders came agonisingly close to ending a 25-year premiership drought before Sydney Roosters fullback James Tedesco broke their backs in the 73rd minute.
Rather than turn their backs on it, Soliola said some of the players chose to face their fears and hope to learn from their mistakes.
“We’ve got another opportunity to right a few wrongs, especially going up to Sunny Coast and as much as it did suck, we addressed a few things in that last game,” Soliola said.
“It still hurts but it was good to watch it and acknowledge what happened, bury it and then move on.
“It was bloody hard to watch, some of the ‘what ifs’ or ‘if only’ and we were mindful of that not being in our heads and damaging us.
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“But it was healthy, we were able to get over it as a group and we are able to move on with it.”
In the lead up to one of the biggest games of his life, Soliola reflected on how his career had come full circle in facing the Roosters in the decider.
Despite being consistently one of the best forwards for the Raiders in 2019, averaging 97 metres a game, 23.6 tackles and recording most post-contact metres of his career, Soliola kept his cards close to his chest regarding his future in the game.
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“Nah no way, it would have spurred me on to this year,” Soliola said when asked if he would have retired if the Raiders won the 2019 premiership.
“I probably had it in my mind to see how I pull up after this off-season, but the body still feels pretty good.
“We’ll see how talks go, how the body holds up.”
Soliola is one of several Raiders off contract after this season and is realistic about continuing his illustrious career in lime green.
“I know how the process goes, I have been around long enough, and it’ll work itself out,” he said.
Having played 317 games in total for his career, Soliola said he is relishing the idea of being seen as one of front-runners for this season even before a minute has been played.
“It’s pretty cool and I would rather be in this position than the other way around,” he said.
“It just means our mindset changes and for us as a group we should take a little bit of respect out of that. Now teams will be going to be prepared and it just means we’ve got to be on the money.
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“It just means there are no days off now. There never really is but this year there isn’t even more so.”
Despite a condensed pre-season due to their run through to the grand final and some players on representative duty, Soliola said the team has worked hard to iron out the few remaining creases to their performances from last season.
“We’re polishing up a few things, but defence is all about attitude and that doesn’t change,” Soliola said.
“Our attack we’ve had to polish up a few things because that’s probably what let us down a bit in the last game (grand final).
“The Roosters had 12 men and we weren’t able to ice the game or take advantage of the opportunities when we had the ball.”