The 'other' Watene-Zelezniak set to roar for Wests Tigers



  • The ‘other’ Watene-Zelezniak set to roar for Wests Tigers
    Author Joel Gould Timestamp Sun 11 Feb 2018, 12:17 PM

    Based on a stellar pre-season and form at the back end of last year, Wests Tigers prop Tim Grant insists we’ll be hearing a lot more about “the other Watene-Zeleniak” in 2018.

    Malakai Watene-Zelezniak, the 26-year-old elder brother of Penrith star Dallin, is one of the “journeymen” Grant said had arrived at the Wests Tigers with the goal of playing the best football of their careers.

    After shining as a Panthers under 20s, Malakai went on his own journey and tried his hand at rugby union with the NSW Country Eagles in 2014.

    After returning to Penrith and finally making his NRL debut last year he got a release to the Wests Tigers where he scored six tries in 13 impressive games.

    “I was at the Panthers with Malakai … and then he missed the boat a little bit,” Grant told NRL.com

    "To see where he is now compared to where he was back then is a massive transformation.

    "Malakai has come back to training in great condition. I haven’t seen a guy as fit as him in a long time.

    "He has dropped a lot of weight and in the fitness and speed drills at training he beats everyone.

    "He is just so professional, and any young rookies coming through should be modelling their preparation on Malakai because he does everything right.

    “I had a bit to do with Dallin at Penrith and I see similarities between the two in the way they leave no stone unturned and look after their bodies.”

    Grant said Malakai was set for “a big year” to follow on from his late season form in 2017. If so, the headline writers may well be putting “MWZ” up in lights as well as “DWZ”.

    “Malakai showed us all what he was capable of at the back end of last year,” Grant said.

    "When he was at Penrith he was the next big thing and had all the wraps but didn’t get his break for various reasons.

    “He went to New Zealand and then he played rugby, but I really think this is his break because he’s big and fit and fast. He has got everything you need.”

    The comings and goings at the Tigers last year, and in the off-season, have been significant.

    During 2017 there was the arrival of new coach Ivan Cleary and the departure of Jason Taylor, then the loss of Mitchell Moses. Aaron Woods and James Tedesco moved on at the end of the season. Benji Marshall has returned, Josh Reynolds is on board and leading forwards Ben Matulino, Russell Packer and Chris McQueen have also been acquired.

    “The thing for us last year was that there was a lot of instability,” Grant said.

    "We got a coach five or six weeks in and there were transfers and people coming and going, but we also learned plenty and a lot of young guys got some experience.

    “We took a lot of top-four teams right to their limits, which was a good thing.”

    Grant conceded that “only a skeleton of that 2017 team remains” in one respect, but he quickly added the flesh that had been put on the bones of that skeleton had him excited about the year ahead.

    “Now we are all in it together. Josh Reynolds went through a bit at the Bulldogs, Chris McQueen has come in on the back of an injury. All of the guys want to be playing the best footy of their careers and they are putting in the work to do that.”



  • It is between himself, Mahe and Kevvie for the other wing spot i guess.



  • He might be a centre option, but I don’t think that he is up to first grade.

    Any decent 1st grader that goes to union is Wallaby standard, or super rugby at least.



  • The wing spot should be his to lose as he performed well for us. Coming back fitter and faster to training is the right message to send to Cleary. It is this type of player who will make the difference for us between being also rans or making the top 8. Well done.



  • @:

    "He has dropped a lot of weight and in the fitness and speed drills at training he beats everyone.

    Never knew he was that quick. Ivan certainly seems to be encouraging our outside backs to get trim and fast.


  • ForumSupporter

    Has played centre and fullback in Reggies at the Pamfers…just saying…



  • @:

    The wing spot should be his to lose as he performed well for us. Coming back fitter and faster to training is the right message to send to Cleary. It is this type of player who will make the difference for us between being also rans or making the top 8. Well done.

    If he is good enough he will play himself into that spot. The best player will get that position. Doesn’t really matter who starts the year, Cleary will make sure whoever is performing the best gets rewarded.


  • Banned

    @:

    He might be a centre option, but I don’t think that he is up to first grade.

    Any decent 1st grader that goes to union is Wallaby standard, or super rugby at least.

    Gee i thought he at least proved he’s up to first grade last year. He was solid week in week out without looking like a star. If he comes back faster, stronger and more confident, then he’s certainly in the mix.


  • ForumSupporter

    @:

    @:

    The wing spot should be his to lose as he performed well for us. Coming back fitter and faster to training is the right message to send to Cleary. It is this type of player who will make the difference for us between being also rans or making the top 8. Well done.

    If he is good enough he will play himself into that spot. The best player will get that position. Doesn’t really matter who starts the year, Cleary will make sure whoever is performing the best gets rewarded.

    How do you know this…All Coaches have their favoured players…The best teams use the least amount of players stability in the 17 bating injuries often the key…



  • Lets just all rejoice no matter who is picked for that left wing they will do a job. Even if injuries/suspensions hit we have good options available all the way down to our 4th or even 5th choice winger!!! Personally i would like to see Nofo/Fonua start but to be honest i will back Kevvy or MWZ if they get the nod too. How good is this depth thing!? 😆



  • I as hoping to hear that MWZ had dropped some weight. Felt he was playing too big last year and that it hindered his speed. Will be good to see how he goes playing lighter.



  • @:

    @:

    @:

    The wing spot should be his to lose as he performed well for us. Coming back fitter and faster to training is the right message to send to Cleary. It is this type of player who will make the difference for us between being also rans or making the top 8. Well done.

    If he is good enough he will play himself into that spot. The best player will get that position. Doesn’t really matter who starts the year, Cleary will make sure whoever is performing the best gets rewarded.

    How do you know this…All Coaches have their favoured players…The best teams use the least amount of players stability in the 17 bating injuries often the key…

    There was an interview with Cleary recently where he said to expect changes to the team. I don’t remember where the interview was, I’ll see if I can find it.



  • I think when your starting something new its all about rewarding performance and attitude.

    If he is beating the other outside backs in terms of fitness and shape then i hope he gets a start. Not a world beater perhaps but I thought he did pretty well last year.



  • @:

    The wing spot should be his to lose as he performed well for us. Coming back fitter and faster to training is the right message to send to Cleary. It is this type of player who will make the difference for us between being also rans or making the top 8. Well done.

    100% agree. Good post.



  • I think we all Trust Ivan and the decisions he will make
    We need to
    If all our players can pick up an extra 1 or 2 % in fitness speed and defence then we will do well this year
    Having our passes stick also helps
    Our players and supporters need to be confident in there abilities
    The players need to trust each others ability
    I hope getting rid of some of the big heads we had in our team last year helps our team work
    Showing confidence in those around you goes a long way
    We have a new bunch of players and all will be hungry for positions and to prove they still have what it takes
    I believe in them
    We will do well this year
    The good thing is we still have around $1.4 million to spend
    I think we are in a great position
    My question is
    Are all you guys on the Bus or off at the next stop
    This isn’t directed at anyone but I have seen some negative comments in the past
    Must be gate crashers


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