Watkins unfazed by “most disliked team” tag

Tom Watkins will urge Telford Tigers to revel in the tag of ‘most disliked team’ at this weekend’s EPL play-off finals tournament at Coventry.

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

The league champions face Basingstoke Bison on Saturday, with the winners due to play either MK Lightning or Guildford Flames in the final the following day.

Watkins is expecting a hostile atmosphere at the 3,000-seater venue, but he believes his team 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 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 they 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.

“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 experienced guys will be more than comfortable with it.”

(Image permission: Tony Sargent)

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