Torpedoes prepare for defining weekend v Wests

THE UWA Torpedoes hosts UNSW Wests in two crucial National Water Polo League matches this weekend and star centre forward Florian Naroska hopes the defending champions can keep building momentum ahead of the finals.

The Torpedoes women and men now get ready to host the University of NSW Wests teams this weekend starting on Friday night at UWA Aquatic Centre.

Half-time of both the women’s and men’s NWPL matches on Friday night will feature junior players from the UWA City Beach Water Polo Club playing in the UWA pool as well.

Sixth straight win for UWA men after tough weekend v Breakers

The return clashes will then take place on Sunday morning with the women’s contest beginning at 10am.

Friday night will begin with a crucial women’s contest for the Torpedoes who enter the round in ninth position with a 5-12 record on the season. The UNSW Wests Killer Whales are just ahead at 9-7 coming off a 12-11 win on penalties on Thursday at Bicton Pool over the Fremantle Marlins.

For UWA to remain any hope of still making the NWPL finals they do need to go on a winning run starting this weekend against the Killer Whales.

Meanwhile, the Torpedoes men have won their past six games in-a-row all in their home pool after going 7-4 in the 11 matches on the road to open 2017.

However, the UNSW Wests Magpies loom as a significant challenge this Friday night and Sunday for the defending champion UWA team.

The Magpies entered the weekend with a 13-2 record before losing at Bicton Pool to the Fremantle Mariners on Thursday.

Now if the Torpedoes beat them in both games this weekend, they could very well end the round in top position on the table depending on how the Sydney Uni Lions and Cronulla Sharks perform.

Naroska is playing a little bit of a different role for the Torpedoes this season spending virtually all his time in the centre forward and centre back role.

He has been performing that role well for the team with the German powerhouse who represented his country at the 2008 Olympic Games and in five World Championships providing tremendous leadership to an increasingly young Torpedoes team.

Naroska knows that they can’t afford any slip ups in the lead up to the finals starting this weekend against Wests. But he does like the form the team is currently in.

“Every game now really counts at this point of the season. This weekend is very important because Wests are a tough team and they are going to be hard games for us,” Naroska said.

“After that we will see how we literally stand this season. That’s good to find out ahead of the finals. These last five games are now important for us and if we win I think we’re in the quarter finals already which will be good.

“I think the home games especially have been really good so far. The bad thing was that we lost a few points in Sydney that held us back a bit, but now that we are running we are in a good flow at the moment. The whole team is getting focused for the finals now and you are seeing everyone giving 100 per cent in the water.”

Coming into the 2017 season it was a first for the Torpedoes to experience life as defending champions with a target on their back. Naroska was proud of what they achieved last year but always knew that would create some new challenges for the team this year.

Suddenly every team lifts to play the Torpedoes but Naroska feels they are handling it well.

“Everyone was a bit nervous at the beginning of the season because for the young players it’s a new situation because suddenly you are a champion after winning the championship,” he said.

“That success was unexpected for us last year and it was a big surprise for everyone, and now this year you need to be extra good because you are the champions. We had three import players last year and the team capitalised on that in the finals pretty well.

“I don’t mean this in the wrong way because every team is tough, but some of the teams down near the bottom see us as a big challenge now this year and they try to beat us a bit more. So that’s made it a bit tougher in the water this year so we’ve had to be ready for it. It’s definitely been more physical than last year as well because now we are the hunted team.”

Naroska along with champion goalkeeper Luke Quinlivan have been charged with providing the veteran leadership in 2017 for the Torpedoes and even more so in the absence of injured Olympian George Ford.

He is happy to help the young players as much as he can, but Naroska is also impressed with how Nick Hughes has embraced the captaincy, and the growth shown by players like Andrew Ford and Lach Pethick among others.

“They have had to improve as well. Last year we had three imports including myself and now it’s just one import with me the only one so other people need to step up and make it happen,” Naroska said.

“Especially Andrew is doing a great job. Lach is getting pretty good too and Nick is playing pretty good as well so we have a lot of potential in this team. We look for all the guys to keep stepping up.”

ROUND 10 FIXTURES (WST)
FRIDAY
UWA Torpedoes v UNSW Wests Killer Whales – UWA Aquatic Centre (Women: 6.30pm)
UWA Torpedoes v UNSW Wests Magpies – UWA Aquatic Centre (Men: 8.00pm)

SUNDAY
UWA Torpedoes v UNSW Wests Killer Whales – UWA Aquatic Centre (Women: 10.00am)
UWA Torpedoes v UNSW Wests Magpies – UWA Aquatic Centre (Men: 11.30am)