MANLY Rex-factor Tony Williams has vowed to hit his peak in the finals and ensure his last days as a Sea Eagle are spent celebrating back-to-back premierships.
The 23-year-old, who earlier this year agreed to a lucrative four-year deal that will reunite him with ex-Manly coach Des Hasler at the Bulldogs from next season, has been unable to reach the lofty heights of his finish to last season.
Injuries, suspension and representative duty have robbed Williams of the chance to leave his imprint on his final year at Brookvale. He has played just 12 of his side's 23 games.
The 120-kilogram wrecking ball admits that consequently heading into the play-offs with his Sea Eagles teammates is a bittersweet experience, but insists he is leaving his second NRL club with no regrets. "It's very sad to leave - I love they club and I love the boys here, they are a great bunch of blokes," he said. "The best thing would be to win it and give something back to them and do something special they'll never forget.
"I like to think that I maybe owe them, but saying that doesn't mean anything. I've got to do it on the field to help them reach that goal."
Williams has come under fire in recent months, criticised for his lack of involvement and vigour in matches. He has answered his critics with barnstorming efforts over the past fortnight against Newcastle and Brisbane, but he is yet to put together a complete 80-minute performance.
The international back-rower conceded he was not playing at his best but believes will be close to it from the first week of the finals.
"I'm not too worried about what other people think because I know personally that I want to be the person that makes the difference for the team," he said.
"I want to be the one to help the team. That's my goal. I just have to keep building every game. My form has been a bit up and down because of injuries and suspension. I'm not quite at my peak yet, but it has been my whole goal to be at my best in the finals.
"It didn't help when I got suspended and I missed about nine weeks of footy. It was a slow process. If I had played those games I would be in a lot better shape than I am in now, especially fitness-wise. I'm not too bad in everything else, it's just my match fitness."
After a sluggish start to the season, the reigning premiers finally resemble the team that lifted the title last season.
They have now won five matches on the trot and are just four victories away from becoming the first team since Wayne Bennett's Broncos in 1992-93 to win back-to-back NRL premierships.
"There's more pressure this time, but we're getting closer and closer to going back to back," Williams said. "That's something that hasn't happened for a long time. We have the chance to create some history there. I've got no doubt in the ability our team has. I think we're slowly reaching our peak."
His form will play a big part in Manly's quest for a taste of glory.
While teammate Kieran Foran is constantly reminding him of the destruction he is capable of causing on a football field, Williams insists he's aware of his potential.
"I do know [what I can do], but Kieran's got high expectations, he does," Williams said. "I respect him a lot. We've got a great partnership, which I really respect. He doesn't really talk to me a lot unless I'm not running the ball or running the right line, then he'll get into me."
As for the Bulldogs?
"I haven't even thought about that yet," he said. "My concern is Manly at the moment. We'll worry about it when it comes. I love this club and I want to do my best this year."