Backs against the wall, sheets of rain falling and a GWS outfit peppering. The Saints need to keep finding that extra gear.

There's an upset brewing for the undermanned outfit, the momentum shifting every few minutes as the two sides jostle for a grip on the hard-fought contest.

As Brett Ratten looks his players squarely in the eyes during each quarterly address, he urges them to dig even deeper. For vice-captain Tim Membrey, the approach is slightly different. 

“I didn’t even have to ask him anything,” Ratten told SEN.

He just puts so much effort in, you don’t have to say ‘Timmy, I just need more’ because he’s giving everything.

- Brett Ratten

“His love for the club and his spirit, his competitive spirt, is there. He’s one player that the players love so much, but he’s really one of those players who’s your heart and spirit of the football club.”

Membrey netted a team-high three goals and 586 metres gained in the miserable conditions at GIANTS Stadium, completing his lofty performance with an additional 21 possessions, seven marks and seven inside-50s.

SAINTS MATCH CENTRE: View all news, stats and videos from Round 1 

With no Max King, Rowan Marshall or Paddy Ryder joining him inside the arc and forward target Mason Wood a late change for Daniel McKenzie, the vice-captain was already shouldering a massive workload from the outset.

Add in torrid conditions less than ideal for a key forward, a scrappy contest full of momentum swings and a GWS outfit fighting tooth and nail for the four points, Membrey's four-quarter performance elevated to even greater heights.

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“To see him get the reward in Round 1 and do what he did, maybe not in the forward line that we’d normally have in, he really led the charge,” Ratten said.

“I thought he was best player on the ground and the most influential for us.

“He stated his personal campaign well, but he also really led the team to that victory.

Jack Steele (in his) first time as captain out there, Seb Ross and Jack Billings with 30 possessions, our leadership group really led by example and that’s a credit to them to bring blokes with them, and I’m very proud of them.

“Seasons are all about the stepping stones along the way. You get the belief and the self-belief as a group, and I think that will give us some confidence in our whole list and what we can do.

“The game is going to be tough this year with the changes to the rules and it’s going to be a war of attrition and people just have to grind it out and find a way to keep performing, but you’re going to need your whole list or whole squad to win games of footy.

“That was a good example for us (yesterday) that we can go to a lot of people and they can really help us.”