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Tigers boss set for hostile atmosphere

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Telford Tigers logo Tigers coach Tom Watkins will urge his men to revel in the tag of “most disliked team” at this weekend’s play-off finals tournament in Coventry.

Telford’s off-ice troubles almost saw them banned from the competition earlier this season, before a late reprieve in February.

The EPL champions face Basingstoke at the Skydome tomorrow (5pm) with the winners due to play either Milton Keynes or Guildford in Sunday’s final.

Tigers coach Tom Watkins makes a point to his players during training on Friday. Photo supplied by Telford Tigers.Watkins is expecting a hostile atmosphere at the 3,000-seater venue, but he believes his men can rise to the occasion.

He said: “The guys are relishing the fact that we are going to be probably the most disliked team at the play-offs this weekend and that’s a motivation tool for everybody.

“We know we’re going to come out, we know it will be a hostile atmosphere, and we know we’ll get booed and jeered.

“We know everybody will cheer every time something happens that we don’t like and I think that is where we’ve got to have a strong referee. That is massively important.

“It is exciting, we want to be able to quiet the crowd down, start really well and if you do that, then you’re doing well.

“We’ll need character guys and guys can’t shrink in the moment. It’s going to be one of those fun, exciting, tense weekends to be involved in hockey.”

Telford’s previous visit to Coventry, in 2015, ended in defeat to Peterborough Phantoms as they crashed out at the semi-final stage.

Watkins added: “I think possibly last time we weren’t prepared for the level of hostility, myself included, and we’re fully expecting the same thing this weekend.

“But we’re the champions and people want to beat the champions, so with the water under the bridge of this season, it will add extra spice to the occasion.

“If guys don’t enjoy the atmosphere this weekend, then they won’t be on the ice. They’ve got to relish it and rise to the occasion.

“Some will, some won’t, but the more experience guys will be more than comfortable with it.”

Telford play Basingstoke Bison in tomorrow’s second semi-final at 5pm, following the first game between Milton Keynes and Guildford at 1pm.

The final takes place at 4pm on Sunday.

Click here for more information and news from the Telford Tigers website

Click here to see the latest Telford Tigers roster for the 2016/17 season

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