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Anasta praises pack for Wests’ extra grunt
March 27, 2014 - 5:07AM
With young guns James Tedesco and Luke Brooks getting all the plaudits, veteran Braith Anasta doesn’t believe Wests Tigers’ forwards have received enough credit for the side’s NRL resurrection.
Along with St George Illawarra, the Tigers are proving the early-season surprise packets with back-to-back upset wins over the Titans on the Gold Coast and title contenders South Sydney.
But while backline dynamos Tedesco and Brooks have grabbed the headlines, Anasta says they wouldn’t be able to weave their magic if the Tigers pack wasn’t providing the necessary go-forward.
“It’s the forward pack, the way they’ve been playing too,” Anasta said ahead of the Tigers’ trip to Wellington to tackle the Warriors on Saturday.
"They pretty much hammered the Gold Coast and then Souths packs two weeks in a row.
"It’s good to have Keithy (Galloway) back, Aaron Woods, to power off the bench.
“These guys haven’t got too much credit the last couple of weeks, but I think they’ve really built the platform for guys like Brooks and Tedesco.”
The Tigers pack dominated their vaunted Rabbitohs counterparts from start to finish last Friday night.
“It was really encouraging for us and I think our fans are loving that too because we haven’t seen that for a while out of the Tigers,” Anasta said.
“We’ve got to make sure we’re consistent with that and back that up this week and make sure it’s not a one-off because we did play for the 80 minutes and it was really physical and the boys really handled themselves well.”
Anasta said it would be too easy to credit club legend Steve Roach’s increased presence at training for the Tigers’ added grunt.
“Blocker’s been great,” he said.
"Obviously he has a really good input on the aggression and he’s got a lot of experience so helps us a lot.
"But I think it’s just taking responsibility ourselves and trying to change our image and trying to get some respect.
“I think we’ve lost that the last year or two.”
Tigers coach Mick Potter will give hooker Robbie Farah until game day to be ready for the Warriors after the skipper sat out training on Wednesday with a calf strain.
“I’d like to think that he’d play, but he’s not fully fit,” Anasta said.
“We’ll give him til kick-off, really.”
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Unheralded big men fire up to help Wests Tigers’ pack gain respect
Date March 26, 2014 - 4:09PM
Rugby league reporter
It’s the no-frills forward pack making a mockery of the competition’s fiercest big men.
The Wests Tigers pack, who five-eighth Braith Anasta believes was not respected by opposition teams last year, have sent out an early warning after getting the better of South Sydney and Gold Coast.
Back-to-back victories against two teams with arguably the biggest and brutal forward packs in the competition – not a bad effort for a team tipped by many to take the wooden spoon off Parramatta.
“Robbie [Farah] mentioned it last week, we didn’t get much respect out of the Titans game because they played ordinary,” Anasta said.
“But no one really looked at us and our performance, so I think we shocked a few people with our performance against Souths.”
You get what you expect from Aaron Woods and Keith Galloway, but it’s the emergence of Martin Taupau, James Gavet, Ava Seumanufagai and Sauaso Sue that have ensured the Tigers are not walked over when their starting props leave the field for a breather.
“We really struggled to get respect from other teams [last year],” Anasta said.
"With the rules changing, that’s helped us too, because there aren’t as many people in the ruck so we get a quicker play-the-ball, we get a little bit more speed. It falls into our hands a little bit. Teams would roll through and we didn’t have the size, regardless of the players we had, we didn’t have that size, punch and experience. To have a bit of both now is helping us.
“They’ve been invaluable. Taupau and Gavet have had a real big pre-season. They add that physicality and aggression, and they intimidate teams. We don’t take a backward step when we make that interchange, we sort of pick up some momentum if anything. They’ve been a key factor in our turnaround the last few weeks and hopefully they can continue their form off the bench.”
Both Sue and Taupau ran for over 100 metres against the Rabbitohs last Friday night.
The Pacific Islanders have added some much needed mongrel and aggression to Mick Potter’s side. While halfback Luke Brooks and fullback James Tedesco have been handed most of the credit for the Tigers’ strong start to the season, Anasta said the inexperienced forwards were the unsung heroes in the team,
“Everyone talks about Brooksy and Teddy – and they were outstanding – but for us it’s about our forwards,” Anasta said.
"We’ve got a pretty small and young pack, and last year we found it hard to match it with the big teams, particularly the likes of Souths. It’s still young but we’ve got a lot bigger and more physical pack that put it to them. When you’ve got a young team it’s about belief and confidence. Once quality young players get that confidence they can become pretty much unstoppable.
“We didn’t really target Souths or the Burgess brothers – there’s been a lot of talk about it – we just wanted to get our own speed off the line and aggression. In the end, it worked out that way. There are probably teams out there that will look at it that way and put a lot of pressure on those boys now. They are quality players and a quality team and they can lift to another level. I wouldn’t be writing them off so soon.”
After a horror season last year, there is a noticeable difference at training on the back of two resounding victories.
Anasta, who joined the club from the Roosters in 2013, said it was the happiest mood he had experienced at the Tigers.
“It’s the best vibe at the club since I’ve been here – by a long way,” he said.
“We’ve won two from three and there’s a lot of excitement but I think there’s a lot more belief in the place. I think we’re excited about what we can do. It’s only early on but we’re excited about what we can do. A win against a top team like Souths has really changed the whole complex of everything.”
I think all the Wests Tigers fans enjoyed our pack standing up to the thugs that are the Bunnies. We are no longer a small and mobile pack.
We need our forwards to compete week in and week out and then they will earn the respect.
The big difference is 4 big forwards on the bench and coming on and making an impact after Woods and Big Red lay the foundation.
Not since the 2005 Grand Final have I enjoyed a WT match as much as last week.
If the pack can muscle up each week we have the backs that can capitalise.
When you think about it (yes I know that trials don’t mean a heap ) but we are actually 4 from 5
The confidence going into the Warriors game will be high and if Farah is fit even higher