Gould’s ticker serve spurred Tigers’ win, admits Marshall
March 28, 2010
BENJI MARSHALL has credited stinging criticism from Phil Gould as the catalyst for Wests Tigers’ upset victory over Parramatta on Friday night.
Gould, NSW’s most successful coach, was scathing in his appraisal of the joint venture’s performance in their loss to the Sydney Roosters last weekend. Writing for the Herald on Monday, Gould described the Tigers as being short on ticker after witnessing them wilt in defence.
’'Wests Tigers need to toughen up,’’ Gould wrote. '‘They do not possess the necessary grit or mental toughness I would expect from a professional football team … too many Tigers gave up on each other when the blowtorch was applied.’'
Marshall, who starred on Friday night despite a painful rib cartilage injury, said the comments hit a raw nerve and were used as motivation going in against the Eels.
‘‘It’s embarrassing,’’ Marshall told The Sun-Herald. ''Nobody wants to lose like that and cop a spray from a well-respected guy like Gus.
''The boys copped a bit of spray and we responded. No one likes to be labelled as having no ticker. It’s what we needed.
''Thank God that Gus did it, because it certainly struck a chord with a lot of us.
''We turned it around and proved Gus wrong, which is nice. [Laughing] It’s not often you get to prove big Gus wrong.
‘‘That’s what we needed, a bit of a boot in the bum.’’
It was a totally different Tigers side that came out against the Eels. After conceding 44 points to the Roosters at the same venue five days earlier, the Tigers conceded just two line-breaks and as many tries against last year’s grand finalists.
When they had the ball in hand, Marshall was everywhere, outplaying the celebrated Jarryd Hayne in the much-hyped battle of the stars. The Kiwis captain scored a length-of-the-field try and had a hand in several others. He even produced one of his trademark flick passes to Lote Tuqiri while deep in his own territory - a freakish play that, he revealed, he regretted.
‘‘I’m building in the right direction but I’m not where I want to be,’’ he said. ''I made a few crucial errors, kicking out on the full and the goal-kicking wasn’t the best, so I’ve still got a bit to work on.
''As a whole, I’m starting to feel a little bit more composed. I still threw a bad flick pass when I could have passed it normally.
''Those passes can be costly. We were winning [narrowly] and if they’d come back and scored it’s a different game.
''Thank god it came off.
‘‘I still have that tendency to overplay a bit. I’m trying to pull it back a bit and find a compromise in between.’’
The recipient of that audacious flick pass, dual international Tuqiri, also attracted headlines. After scoring two tries to take his season tally to four from three games, Marshall gave him a new nickname.
‘‘His new nickname is Spotty - not Lote - because he loves the spotlight,’’ Marshall grinned.
''He made a great comeback into the NRL and if he gets good ball from Chris Lawrence out wide and Tim Moltzen, all he has to do is finish.
‘‘He’s an unbelievable finishing ability and he’s a strong runner of the ball. He definitely wouldn’t be out of place in that Queensland team.’’
Marshall deflected the praise that came his way after the man-of-the-match performance to his forward pack. The outlandishly talented five-eighth said the defensive attitude against Parramatta must now become the minimum standard for the remainder of the year.
''In the past year we’ve wondered why we haven’t made the semis and that’s nailed it on the head, consistency in defence. The bar is there now and we can’t afford to take a backward step.
''We’ve got a lot of expectations on ourselves this year and we have to keep up that attitude if we want success.
‘‘We get all the credit out wide but the forwards did all the work in the middle.’’
Grit, not my barbs, should fire up Tigers
March 28, 2010
What is it about criticism that motivates us to do our best? Why does the condemnation or denigration of a team’s performance by some boofhead in the media almost immediately sting that team into action at its very next appearance?
Why does it take public censure or disparaging comments to have players feel they have a point to prove?
The Wests Tigers are my favourite team in the NRL. I love watching them play. I’ve been quoted many times saying I would love them to be on TV every Sunday afternoon on Channel Nine because I get so excited calling their games. It’s real entertainment.
In pre-season previews, I tipped them to make the top four. Maybe some of that was wishful thinking, but mostly my opinion was based on their excellent form at the back end of 2009 and my belief in their potential as a football team.
Last Sunday afternoon I sat and watched the Wests Tigers meekly surrender to the Sydney Roosters in what can be described only as an extremely disappointing performance.
They led the match 12-0 after 20 minutes - 40 minutes later they trailed 38-12.
Actually, three nights earlier on the Thursday night Footy Show, I pre-empted the possibility of such a result, saying that despite the Tigers’ undeniable ability in attack, they were showing bad signs in defence and needed to dig in a little harder when games were not going their way. To the trained eye, such cracks in the wallpaper were easily identified.
After their embarrassing defensive effort against the Roosters, in my regular Monday match analysis in The Sydney Morning Herald I wrote: "Wests Tigers need to toughen up. The talent of their individual players is unquestioned.
''Their skill and flair rivals that of any team in the NRL competition.
''With ball in hand they are creative and extremely dangerous from anywhere on the field. However - and it is a very big however - they do not possess the necessary grit or mental toughness I would expect from a professional football team.
''Football is more than tricky passes, sneaky kicks, trick shots and entertaining the crowd. For a start, you have to spend half of every game without the ball, so you need to learn to enjoy your time in defence and make it work for you.
''The Tigers have developed this annoying habit of only wanting to compete when the going is easy. When the run of play or luck goes against them, they leak points like a park team, and only become interested again when they get the ball back in good field position and can go back to attacking football."
The sub-editors at the Herald summarised the tone of my column by applying the headline: ‘‘Sheens has a problem: Tigers short on ticker when the going gets tough.’’
Harsh maybe, but certainly justified. Sometimes the truth is the last thing you want to hear; but it’s the one thing you need to hear the most.
Following the Tigers’ emphatic defeat of Parramatta on Friday night, several players referred to the criticism they had received after last week’s match. They took exception to the suggestion they lacked ‘‘ticker’’ and how they really had a point to prove against the Eels.
Well, prove a point they did - but what point did they prove?
Did they prove the criticism was wrong - or did they prove the criticism to be right?
The foundation for their victory over the Eels lay in a relentless defensive effort that totally belied the disgraceful application they showed only four days earlier in the loss to the Roosters.
They attacked the Eels’ ball runners on every play, every minute, for the full 80 minutes.
The Tigers showed they were capable of grit, that they do possess courage under fire, that they have the mental toughness to win games the hard way.
The question now is, why didn’t they show these qualities in previous weeks? Why do they regularly let themselves down with poor discipline and poor resolve in defence?
Why did it take the questioning of their ‘‘ticker’’ to stimulate such an immediate and emphatic on-field response?
The bottom line is that these previously displayed weaknesses in their game had absolutely nothing to do with a lack of ability and everything to do with mental application and attitude control.
I believe this inconsistency in defensive efforts cost them a place in the finals in 2009. They were easily one of the top eight teams in the NRL last year but watched the play-offs from some secluded pub still crying in their beers.
Every footballer, every team, should be out to prove a point every week.
Every time you take the field you make a statement about who you are and what you believe in.
Every game is vital and a poor effort today just might be the two competition points you squander that costs you a place in the big end-of-season matches.
Coaches pull their hair out trying to understand what motivates players and why attitudes can be so inconsistent.
It comes down to the individual.
You have chosen a career as a professional footballer. You make so many sacrifices in your personal life to play this game. You train six days a week, 46 weeks a year. You are asked to perform one day a week and it is on this performance alone that you and your teammates will be judged.
Why, then, do you invite the disappointment of these regular mediocre efforts, when the overriding factor in these performances is simply your mental application on the day?
At this level, the talent is unquestioned - but mental toughness is tested every day.
If you show you are capable once, it stands to reason you should be capable the majority of the time. You can’t win every game, but you can go a long way to not beating yourself.
The best players and the best teams in this competition prove their consistency over a long period time. Their reputation is forged in demonstrated ability.
The emotional response to media criticism does not last. Going out to prove a point because a newspaper column touched a raw nerve is not what this game is about.
The best motivation comes from within. The best motivation comes from understanding what this game and your reputation as a footballer means to you. The best motivation comes from understanding why you play this game and what being a professional footballer can provide for the rest of your and your family’s lives.
When you ask yourself these questions every day, you will attack your assignments with the discipline, passion and resolve of someone who always has a goal to achieve.
It was a great win by the Tigers over Parramatta.
I expect no less the next time they play. Let’s hope they still believe they have a point to prove.
Great article by Gould……3 or 4 of his lines in his piece should be made into posters and plastered all over Camp Concord to remind our team, that they have something to prove to their loyal patient fans every game , every week…lets see if they can keep that resolve they show us all last friday night
innsaneink last edited by
So they wanted to prove Gus wrong.
Whats the motivation next week?
Benjis words - imo - show the mental attitude within the team is still not right
willow last edited by
Very good article from Gould, and you are right Ink, they can’t keep referring to newspaper article bagging them just to prove a point. The Tigers spoke about being mentally tough this year after losing the close games last year and they should be going back over the video footage of the Eels game and looking to build on it. It was a very good example of how they should be playing each week. The defence had great line speed all night and shut the Eels down all over the park rather than sliding across the field against the Roosters. The attack too, was direct and controlled and for the most part, not overplayed. The kicking game was effective, they turned the Eels around and chased well.
If the players play as a team and trust the coaches instructions, such as getting off the defensive line and meeting the opposition rather than waiting for them, if the forwards hit the line hard and win the ruck, if they hold the ball and get to their kick, then the Tigers can go a long way towards beating any side in the competition. It all starts with getting the basics right and backing their ability and believing they can win through doing the little things right, not just blowing teams away with attack.
gould is on point also id like to give gus more compliments, at the game friday night before kickoff he was out there with all the junior league players chatting with them shaking hands doing photos with them and such, its the stuff you dont normally hear about.
Juro last edited by
Yep, spot on by Gould. It definitely says something about the team’s attitude that they are trying to prove a journo wrong rather than trying to prove something to themselves. They need to have their own goals and be serious about them!
westTAHger last edited by
gonna have to wait and see how they perform against the raiders.
if wests-tigers turn up to play, not the “concord/campbelltown cubs” it will be a good game.
so gould has us in his top 4, geyer and brohman think we can win the comp this year. I havent heard talk like this since the 70’s and 80’s with the maggies.