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Talking with Pat Richards about that Grand Final try

Pat Richards scores 'that try' during the 2005 Grand Final won by Wests Tigers. Getty Images via Getty Images

The 2005 NRL season is perhaps best remembered for the incredible success of the Wests Tigers, just six seasons after entering the competition as a merged entity between Balmain Tigers and Wests Magpies.

Having failed to qualify for a finals series in their short history and with a relatively inexperienced squad, the Tigers were at long odds to even contend for the 2005 premiership. The club itself, however, had set itself ambitions of a top four finish.

A difficult beginning to the season that included a four-game losing streak almost shattered this goal, before the team rallied to win a club record eight games in a row to sneak into 4th on the ladder and eventually qualify for the Grand Final.

Facing North Queensland Cowboys and with the scores level at 6-6, Benji Marshall and Pat Richards combined to create an iconic moment in rugby league folklor, that would change the complexion of the game.

"Benji had bad shoulders back then... (but) it wasn't because he couldn't tackle," Richards explained.

"It was because he tried to put shots on all the time and his body wasn't ready - he was only a young bloke.

"So I would defend in the centres and he would defend on the wing."

It was for this reason that Marshall, the Tigers' brilliant five-eighth, was given the task of returning the 35th minute kick by the great Johnathan Thurston, and not Richards.

Richards was also recovering from a devastating ankle injury sustained a week earlier, that very nearly ruled him out of the Grand Final.

"It actually worked out well that I could stay up in the line and wouldn't have to go back (to return Thurston's kick)", Richards told the Talking with TK podcast.

"(When) I see Benji just explode (through the kick defence)... I'm trying hard just to keep the legs going.

"So I just started running and then I thought 'he's going to go into touch here', so I just sort of stayed straight.

"And then the ball pops up - I didn't know he flicked it at the time. I'd only seen that a couple days later while we were still celebrating.

"I'd just seen him sprint and go towards the corner and then the ball pops up... I just threw the mitt out and it stuck.

As miraculous as the play seemed, it certainly wasn't dumb luck that it ended in a try.

"(Coach Tim Sheens) used to make us practice stuff - he goes 'I don't mind you trying anything in a game as long as you practice it'.

"So we would practice it as a team. We used to do all these drills, like basketball stuff... and then the skills come out on Grand Final day.

"We scored the try and didn't even think much of it, but it's probably got better and better as the years have gone on.

"It's coming up to 15 years now and it still gets shown and people keep talking about it and bringing it up all the time.

"But it's a team game - you don't win these Grand Finals without the boys.

"Had we lost, who cares about the try?"

For the full interview visit Talking with TK Podcast