The spooky similarities linking Wests Tigers to 2005 premiership team
AAPAPRIL 17, 201811:37AM
THE Wests Tigers are embracing the challenge laid down to them by coach Ivan Cleary to write their own history as they seek a 2005-style NRL premiership boilover.
It’s difficult to compare sides 13 years apart, but you can’t help but see similarities between Tim Sheen’s ‘05 Tigers which claimed one of the biggest upsets in the league’s history and Cleary’s class of ‘18.
Iin 2005, they were paying $81 with the TAB, had missed the finals in each of the joint venture’s first five years and Benji Marshall had the No.6 on his back.
This year, they were $67 before round one, were absent from the last six finals series and Marshall is once again back in his old jersey.
While a lot of water has flowed under the bridge since 2005, and the Tigers are only a quarter of the way through the season, the two sides are united by a lack of expectation.
Just as they were given short shrift by the punters and pundits back then, the Tigers are relishing the chance to write their own destiny.
“It’s hard to compare, the game’s changed,” Marshall said when asked to compare the two eras.
“Ivan’s said it from the start of pre-season, there’s no expectation on us to do anything, we get to create our own culture, decide where we wanted to be on the table and play however we wanted to play.
“With a lot of new faces being signed, you don’t know how that’s going to go. The guys he did sign, he brought in experience and guys who wanted to compete and win and that’s rubbing off.”
At 5-1 and in the top four, the Tigers have been one of the good news stories of the first quarter of the season.
Marshall is has evolved as a playmaker but is equally dangerous and has perfectly complimented Luke Brooks, who has flourished under his tutelage.
In 2005, Brooks was a wide-eyed 10-year-old Tigers junior watching in the ANZ Stadium stands as Marshall helped the club lift the premiership trophy for the first time.
He vividly remembers Marshall’s flick pass for Pat Richards’ famous try. He said he still found it hard to believe he was playing alongside Marshall, whose poster he had up on his wall as a kid.
“You wouldn’t have thought that Benji would come back after all those years,” Brooks said.
“I still pinch myself when I get to run out alongside him.”