SPORTS

Hamilton Tiger-Cats forgo pads and fashion in final Grey Cup workout

11/29/2014 04:11 EST | Updated 01/29/2015 05:59 EST
VANCOUVER - The Hamilton Tiger-Cats wrapped up their Grey Cup preparations with a short, loose session at B.C. Place Stadium on Saturday.

The walkthrough lasted all of 15 minutes, with the players forgoing pads and helmets.

There were more than a few fashion crimes. Linebacker Simoni Lawrence opted for shiny black pants and bright red shoes. Defensive end Justin Hickman wore a garish matching sweater and tuque, with his Ticats sweater around his neck like a life preserver. Running back Nic Grigsby brought out the bling with gold boots.

It looked like the entire team had thrown a pile of clothes in the middle of the locker-room and then each randomly grabbed a couple of items to wear on the field.

Players posed for pictures, with the receiving corps making like a hip-hop soccer team at its photo-op, flashing hand signals. Six-foot-eight offensive lineman Jake Olson stood back to back with five-foot-seven kick returner Brandon Banks to show off the long and short of the Hamilton roster.

The Tiger-Cats (9-9) take on the Calgary Stampeders (15-3) in Sunday's championship game.

The records tilt in favour of Calgary, listed as an eight-point favourite. But Hamilton has been on a tear since quarterback Zach Collaros returned from a concussion and the team moved into its new digs at Tim Hortons Field.

Hamilton went from 1-6 to 9-9 before thumping Montreal 40-24 in the Eastern Conference final. The Tiger-Cats, beaten 45-23 by Saskatchewan in last year's championship game, are brimming with belief.

"Last year, it was what it was," said slotback Steve Tasker. "But this year, this team, I just feel a real calmness on the sidelines when we've been in games, even when we've been behind.

"I feel a confidence that this team is going to come out hot (Sunday)."

Added receiver Andy Fantuz: "We expected to be here and we're not satisfied yet. We're hungry for that championship."

Collaros doesn't pay attention to the bookies.

"We've kind of been the underdog for the last however many weeks," he said. "I don't know what it was last week. But everybody thought Montreal was going to win that game. They especially thought they were going to win that game."

Fantuz, who saw limited action against Montreal last week after returning from a hamstring issue, says he is ready to do his bit Sunday.

"I feel great. I really do," he said. "I had a good week of practice. I feel like I'm ready to run around and fly around."

Hamilton coach Kent Austin was equally relaxed, delaying his news conference Saturday to join reporters watching the final moments of the Vanier Cup on TV.

"There's just one more team meeting but it will be short," he said. "The work's done. Our players are ready to play."

Is his pre-game speech written, the coach was asked?

He said it's typically spontaneous, although he might touch on one of the themes of the week for emphasis.

"But we believe in self-starters, self-determined players, self-motivated players," Austin added. "They don't need to rely on me for their motivation."

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