Maguire seeks to take emotion out of Panthers clash
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Wests Tigers coach Michael Maguire has sought to take the emotion out of what shapes as a fiery clash with Penrith, denying his troops have extra motivation coming up against Ivan Cleary.
Cleary will face off against his former NRL club for the first time, five months since his acrimonious move to Sydney’s west to work alongside son and halfback Nathan. Tensions linger between Cleary and some at Concord with veteran Robbie Farah this week revealing: “Some players wanted to kill him, some players didn’t care.”
Russell Packer, who moved to the club to play under Cleary, was reportedly angered by his decision, while skipper Moses Mbye said he could have handled the situation better. It sets the stage for a mouth-watering clash at Panthers Stadium on Friday night.
But Maguire says he hasn’t seen any sign of emotion seeping into his side’s preparations and when asked on Wednesday if the game was one that some of his charges had circled on the calendar, he said: "No, this is my team now.
“I’ve really enjoyed coaching this group. There’s a lot of upside in this group which I’m going to work very hard with the boys to achieve.” Maguire said he was more concerned about getting the club to take the next step and break their eight-season finals drought.
After a promising start, the Tigers fell from grace against a rebounding Canterbury last week and Maguire is wary of their 2019 campaign following a similar script to Cleary’s final season in charge in which they got off to a flyer before falling away.
“Well I haven’t seen it,” Maguire said when it was suggested emotions were still running high amongst some players as a result of Cleary’s exit.
“They’re focused on what they need to do. They’re more disappointed about how they performed throughout that Canterbury game. We let ourselves down.”