The Campeltown history lessons that have helped the new-look Wests Tigers build valuable bonds
MATT LOGUE, The Daily Telegraph
January 27, 2018 3:38pm
IT’S the history lessons on the club’s Western Sydney heritage that will help the Wests Tigers go to another level in 2018.
Forward Elijah Taylor has revealed the new-look Tigers have become tighter as a team after spending a week in camp at the Rydges Hotel in Campbelltown.
On top of sweating in the summer sun, the five-day camp’s purpose was for the team’s nine new players to understand the region they will be representing.
The Tigers are based at Concord Oval, only 11km from Sydney city, and coach Ivan Cleary wants the squad to appreciate the Wests side to the joint venture.
Taylor says the camp, which included time talking to people in the community, has Cleary’s men primed to perform strongly this season.
“The Magpies have a rich history and it has been a real eye-opener for a lot of the new players,” Taylor told The Sunday Telegraph.
“I’ve been at the Tigers for two years and the history of the Wests Magpies is something you wouldn’t learn about unless you came to the club.
“It’s why we wanted to get out in the community and understand the area we represent. It is not just Balmain, because we always train at Concord, so we don’t really mix with the Campbelltown community.
“Western Sydney is a massive nursery for rugby league and the Macarthur region is what we represent.
“We’ve got some Macarthur area juniors like David Nofoaluma and Chris Lawrence.
“They’ve come through the system and we need to make sure the pathways remain strong and we keep supporting them.
“It has been awesome to get out into the community and it’s something we need to do a bit more of.”
The Tigers have lost more than 700 games of NRL experience following the departures of seasoned players like James Tedesco, Matt Ballin and former skipper Aaron Woods.
On the plus side, the joint-venture club have picked up a cast of experienced campaigners in Josh Reynolds, Russell Packer, Chris McQueen and Ben Matulino.
Taylor says the recruits have provided the Tigers with valuable class, composure and drive at training.
“They’ve all been massive for us, because experience is something that we missed a bit last year,” he said.
“That was especially the case in tight games. We were winning a lot of games at halftime last year, but we weren’t able to ice them off.
“But experienced campaigners know what to do when the game is on the line and guys like Benji Marshall and Josh Reynolds will be perfect for that.
“Josh has really impressed me with his competitive nature and the way he trains.
“He has lifted our intensity at training. Having Benji back is also great as he brings good energy to our team.
“It is good for our young boys to learn from experienced guys like that.”
Taylor says the Tigers have also benefited from the most intense pre-season he has experienced in his two seasons at the club.
The team completed a gruelling sand dune session at Palm Beach on Sydney’s Northern Beaches last November, which was designed to mentally test the players.
“We did the session with the sandhill warrior and it was intense,” Taylor said.
“But it was all about pushing through and working together as a team.
“Our intensity has been full-on all pre-season, but that is what Ivan wants.
“The conditions have been very testing, but all the boys have ripped in.
“Plus, it’s good training in that heat because it will condition us for the start of the season. We’ve got the Roosters at 4pm in the first round, so we are doing everything we can to prepare for that.”