the day i seen him smash nathan brown not once but twice was the day i fell in love with this kid !!! hope he has a breakout season for usAfter watching helplessly from the sidelines as his club slumped to their first-ever wooden spoon in 2022, Wests Tigers young gun Shawn Blore is ready to unleash a year’s worth of frustration at Leichhardt Oval in the opening round of 2023.
Having been re-signed by the club despite the fact a pre-season ACL injury cruelled his 2022 campaign, the 22-year-old is determined to repay the faith new coach Tim Sheens has shown in him.
“It’s been a hard year for everyone at the club but it was even harder watching from the sideline,” Blore told NRL.com.
“It was really painful at times having to sit there because you can’t do anything to help and you can’t change anything. You just sit there wishing you could do something and it’s a really crap feeling.
“The re-signing this year is something I’ll never forget. To re-sign someone who’s unproven in the NRL and give me that chance, I can't describe it.
"And Sheensy knows very well that my goal is to start for the team in round one in the back row."
More than 15 months since he last graced a football field, the Penrith junior is adamant he has grown as a player and a person during his time away from the game.
“I’ve definitely heard a lot of sayings since my injury. One that really stuck with me was ‘you can be a sad loser or a sad winner,’ he said.
“Injuries are always going to be sad, but you have a choice to use it to better yourself.
“I really liked that saying so I stuck by it and used it to overcome a really low point in my career.
“There’s a lot of little milestones you can’t take for granted when you're injured, whether that’s walking or straightening my leg.
"It’s such a long process so you’ve just got to tick off all the small wins along the way and not take them for granted.”
With two ACL injuries forcing the emerging back-rower to spend more time in the rehab room than on the field in recent years, blore said the thought of setting foot onto Leichhardt Oval in front of a packed house on March 5 gets the blood pumping.
“My footy and the past few years have been so scattered but one thing has remained the same and that’s my dream to play again on a sunny Sunday afternoon at Leichhardt,” he said.
“Our first two rounds are on Sunday at Leichhardt Oval and I just love that ground.
“It’s so iconic and everyone gets behind it no matter what’s going on. Out of everything, I just can’t wait for that Leichhardt moment.
“My family were probably hurt a lot more than I was when I got injured and to be able to run on the field and see them smile again in the stands would make it all worth it.”
Having played just 18 games since his debut midway through 2020, the Australian Schoolboys representative said he can feel a new era dawning under 2005 premiership coach Sheens.
“Sheensy', Benji (Marshall) and Faz (Robbie Farah), they’ve won a competition together, so they know what it takes to win,” he said.
“From what I’ve seen of pre-season, it feels like there’s a new mentality this year and everyone is sort of feeding off that.
“We’ve got all we need now - the new facilities are second-to-none, we’ve got the coaching staff and the signings have been amazing.
"Api Koroisau, Isaiah Papali’i, Dave Klemmer, Charlie Staines... they’re what we need.”
Looked that way in the photos as well, could that's he's being looked at as a 13 moving forward. Or could just be that the senior halves aren't back at training yet, which would explain why Benji is filling in as well.