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Tiger cubs out to earn stripes in Toyota Cup Grand Final
By Steve Gee From: The Daily Telegraph October 02, 2009 12:00AM
WESTS Tigers’ Toyota Cup coach Grant Jones says he works overtime on defence, spending twice as many hours than he does on his team’s dazzling attack.
As he prepares his Tigers for Sunday’s Grand Final clash with Melbourne Storm at ANZ Stadium, Grant is at pains to explain why there are so many blow-out scorelines.
“The fact is these kids come from schoolboys, where they play 25 minutes [halves],” Grant told MainGame. "It’s a big jump to 40 minutes and that’s why sides can’t hold out for long periods or back-to-back sets in defence. Mentally they just can’t concentrate for that period.
“They don’t have the experience and the mental aptitude.”
Now in its second season, the Toyota Cup has already produced a string of players now starring at NRL level, headed by Souths halfback Chris Sandow, last season’s Toyota Cup player of the year.
Among those expected to kick on from 2009 include Tigers’ five-eighth Robert Lui, who caught the eye with a handful of NRL impressive performances at halfback late in the year.
Tigers fullback Jake Mullaney, who topped the Toyota Cup poinstcorers, is another star on the rise, while backrower Simon Dwyer will graduate to the top 25 next year after impressing head coach Tim Sheens in the NRL this year.
Melbourne, who finished third in the minor premiership, feature two players from the 2009 Toyota Cup Team of the Year, with English fullback Gareth Widdup and and Kiwi front-rower Jesse Bromich.
The Tigers and Storm have one win apiece this year, with both emerging victorious on the road.
The round 6 clash went to Melbourne 38-22, while Wests Tigers had their revenge in round 15, winning 38-28.
Grant said the win against the Storm was the team’s first against a higher-ranked side and proved to be a catalyst for their Grand Final run.
The Tigers typify the topsy-turvy nature of the Toyota Cup, where drawing a form line can be impossible as sides lose players to the NRL and NSW Cup. They finished fourth but fell 46-22 to Brisbane in the first week of the play-offs.
That put them in sudden-death matches against the Raiders and Dragons.
“We’ve been good at beating sides below us, but hadn’t beaten a top-four contender until we beat them [the Storm], so it was probably a bit of a turning point,” Grant said.
“It gave them the boost of confidence. It should be a great game on Sunday.”
I have a feeling.
It’s going to be day to remember!