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Tigers cubs punch above their weight
Josh Rakic | October 4, 2009
WESTS TIGERS recruitment manager Warren McDonnell says the Toyota Cup team taking on Melbourne in today’s grand final is one of the club’s most promising groups of juniors in at least five years.
Not since Western Suburbs’ 2002 SG Ball side has the club produced so much NRL potential in one season. The 2002 team introduced Bryce Gibbs, Liam Fulton, Dean Collis, Ryan Hoffman, Ben Roberts and Isaac De Gois to NRL.
New Tigers Robert Lui and Simon Dwyer have already played NRL this year, Aaron Woods and Jason Schirnack will join them in the full-time NRL squad next season, and at least three others will become part-time members of the first grade side next year.
‘‘They are a talented bunch of kids,’’ said McDonnell, who tipped the side to defeat the Storm in today’s grand final at ANZ Stadium. ''We had Tim Moltzen and Blake Ayshford come through last year, and next year looks promising too, but there’s an exceptional amount of potential NRL players in this side.
‘‘There’s a few of them who will go into our top 25 next year and another bunch that will train with the top squad full-time over the off-season. They’re a very good bunch of kids, and I think much higher than the average will go through and play NRL out of this squad.’’ McDonnell said the side’s attacking ability was second to none in the Toyota Cup competition.
‘‘The attacking skills they’ve got and the knowledge they’ve gotten from playing these games and being around the first-graders is invaluable. They’ve really benefited from that and show that same sort of flair on the field,’’ he said.
‘‘Grant Jones and his coaching staff have done a tremendous job to get the best out of these kids. We’ve got a good system here, and we’re really starting to see the fruits of it.’’
Toyota Cup expert Scott Sattler has tipped the Tigers to take out the match, but said Storm five-eighth Dane Chisholm was capable of inspiring his side to an upset.
‘‘The battle between Robert Lui and Dane is probably going to decide the outcome of the match,’’ said Sattler, who has kept a close eye on both sides in his role as under-20s commentator for Fox Sports.
‘‘Dane’s probably the pick of the Melbourne players, and he’s in really good form. He brings everything to the team - he’s quick, he’s agile, and he’s really slick in the way that he runs. He has an array of skills, and once you think you’ve got him, he’ll create an opportunity for someone else.’’
Sattler said he expected both sides to play a wide-running game, and said if the Storm brought the same tactics that bewildered the Broncos last week, they had a chance against the red-hot Tigers.