Premiership winning player and former State of Origin coach
Watch out for Wests
April 06, 2010Wests Tigers are one of my favourite teams in the NRL to watch. They are flamboyant, exciting and certainly less structured than a lot of clubs.
But since their 2005 premiership triumph, I can’t help but think they have lacked that certain steel it takes to compete with the game’s elite clubs.
Enter Steve Folkes.
Enticing the former Bulldogs coach to the Tigers has been a masterstroke by Tim Sheens.
They already look a different side to recent years.
In his role as strength and conditioning coach, Folkes has the Tigers looking more and more like the old Bulldogs, tough and uncompromising.
I thought Wests Tigers’ line speed against Canberra on Sunday forced a heap of errors from the Raiders.
Folkes has really given the joint venture club plenty of grunt.
I reckon Wests Tigers would have lost that game 12 months ago - but they scored 25 unanswered points to grab an unlikely two points.
In fact I truly believe they are top-four candidates.
I like the look of Tim Moltzen at halfback and I think Beau Ryan is one of the NRL’s most under-rated players.
They are young, fast and prepared to throw the ball around but this year they have a more determined look about them.
Lote Tuqiri has certainly added that touch of class to their backline. He is big, strong and experienced.
Chris Lawrence has bulked up over the off-season yet lost none of his speed and will surely be discussed by NSW selectors in coming weeks.
They have a few hard-heads up front too in Todd Payten, Bryce Gibbs and Gareth Ellis while Liam Fulton has returned from England and is running hard and straight on the edges.
Benji Marshall … what more can you say about this bloke?
And we shouldn’t forget Taniela Tuiaki - the game’s most powerful winger - is still to come back.
Wests Tigers are the real deal this year.
They have fallen away badly toward the end in recent years when the pressure has arrived but I don’t think that will happen in 2010. They look ready and they look hungry.
Pencil them in for a finals spot. And I for one wouldn’t want to be playing them in September.