Matty Johns On WT

Matty Johns: Tigers are a good attacking team but have a huge defensive problem they won’t address

You finish ninth once, they had the talent. But when you finish ninth as often as the Tigers and people start to expect you to finish there, that says something far worse than being unlucky.

Matty Johns, The Daily Telegraph

September 4, 2020 7:49am

Rugby league people pin plenty of badges on the Wests Tigers.

Some weeks it’s ‘exciting’.

Some weeks it’s ‘disappointing’.

But mostly, it’s ‘inconsistent’ and ‘under-achieving’.

In 2020 it’s less a badge, more a bumper sticker, with a punchline, ‘Wests Tigers, ninth place

specialists.’ It’s a slur.

You see, to finish ninth means you’ve got the talent to play finals football.

You finish ninth once, they had the talent, but: “Too many injuries … The ball just didn’t bounce for them in a few games … They lacked experience.”

But when you finish ninth as often as the Tigers and people start to expect you to finish there, that says something far worse than being unlucky.

The Tigers had a typically inconsistent start to the season, but then really warmed up through late June and early July, showing their talents with some big wins and some tight losses to top teams such as all-conquering Penrith.

But then typically, when their fans started to believe, their season collapsed, losing six of their past seven.

That win, a 29-28 victory over bottom-placed Canterbury.

From the moment their season took a spiral, weekly complaints have leaked out of Concord.

Every club leaks information, but it’s alarming how intimate the details of dressing room discussions at the Tigers.

The Tigers are lost. I sometimes wonder whether they know what type of team they are, what works for them, what doesn’t.

The mirror can be your most favourite or most loathed piece of furniture in your house, it never lies.

I’m going out for dinner, I’ll slip on my jeans, most polished shoes and best shirt and think I look like Brad Pitt, walk past the mirror and see a short, dumpy bloke who’s losing his hair.

What would the mirror tell the Tigers?

If the Tigers, as a team, sat down and put together a game plan as if they were playing themselves, what would that game plan be?

If that game plan was hung on a wall in the dressing room, so that every time the players walked in and saw it, would they be proud?

The Tigers are a talented group of players. Let me adjust that, they are a talented attacking team. In attack they rank fifth in the competition.

But if you were to do a mathematical equation in relation to attack and defence, it would be effectively, the quality of your defence dictates how many risks you can take with the football.

Going by that, the Tigers can barely take a risk because they can’t defend errors.

The Tigers have a big defensive problem which they can’t or won’t address. The styles of defence clubs use in 2020 are very similar. Some have a bias toward holding and sliding, others tend to come at you more aggressively.

Defence is only part technical, its mostly grit and discipline. Defence is a collective cause, where effort is driven by a fear of letting teammates down. You don’t want to be ‘that bloke’.

In the last month there’s been too many of ‘those blokes’ in the Tigers colours.

The Harry Grant situation in itself is cause for alarm. Harry arrived at the Tigers with very little NRL experience, he’d played no football in 2020 and had no real understanding with teammates, yet immediately became the clubs most important player.

His knee injury has coincided with the teams collapse. He returns to the Storm next year.

This week the tom-toms have started beating around Luke Brooks and his future at the Tigers. I don’t subscribe to the theory that it’s time for the Tigers to let Brooks go … not yet.

I’ll declare an interest, I’ve worked with Brooks on a couple of occasions and can see he has
what it takes to make the Tigers successful.

But his time has come. He needs to see himself as an experienced leader, and no longer a young player with potential.

He needs to stop allowing others to take seniority. He needs to stop simply parking himself on the left side, and take control of the whole football team.

It’s his team and his time.

If he believes in Brooks, can we get him as a full time halves coach then please?

I didn’t rate Matty much as a footy player but he definitely has a smart footy brain

last edited by Speed2burn

Sums it up adequately

Well let’s get this plonker in and work with Brooks and the team

Well I usually don’t enjoy what this guy writes.
But my hat off to him for this articulates exactly what two main problems WT have … and I’m sure Madge and the coaching staff are aware of.
Problem number one can be addressed over the off season with recruitment and a good defence coach. We just need to realise where our player roster weakness is in the forwards. For me contractual position and ongoing value of our forward pack including players McQueen (done), Packer, MCK, Garner and to some extent Sayfarth and Clark need to be re-assessed.
Contracted or not if Madge sees that they have hit their max potential and there is no room for improvement … then (contract or no contract) it’s time to let them find another club.
As far as Brooks is concerned, one on one offseason coaching by someone like Johns brothers or Toovey should be considered a good investment.

The concept of a game plan against yourself is interesting. Imagine how Benji would target himself in defence? He’d be licking his lips at the possibilities.

@voice_of_reason said in Matty Johns On WT:

The concept of a game plan against yourself is interesting. Imagine how Benji would target himself in defence? He’d be licking his lips at the possibilities.

Yep that stood out for me also.

I want to see the team up and in the faces of the opponent in defense. All the good teams do it, to the point i wonder how they are onside. We, on the other hand seem to wait and hold back in defense which allows forwards to build up steam and a smart half back time to either get a smart kick away or time to run a creative play. It needs to change, I’m sick of seeing it every week.

If Brooks hasn’t realised this fact himself by now, he most likely never will.
Having Benji gone should be great for Brooks in this respect, he won’t have Benji overcalling him now. If he does not stand up next season and be a dominant playmaker, get rid of him whatever the cost. Sick of hearing this dribble about him year after year.
Was Benji here when Brooks won Dally M HOTY? I can’t remember.

@Tcat said in Matty Johns On WT:

I want to see the team up and in the faces of the opponent in defense. All the good teams do it, to the point i wonder how they are onside. We, on the other hand seem to wait and hold back in defense which allows forwards to build up steam and a smart half back time to either get a smart kick away or time to run a creative play. It needs to change, I’m sick of seeing it every week.

Most of the time these teams ARE offside, way offside. If you can do that and the biased officials let you get away with it then it’s a huge advantage. We aren’t allowed to get away with it unfortunately…it would be a great help.

Totally agree with everything he said…main point of interest is the defense issues we have,once again I will say that Madge builds his gameplans on defense and some in this team are terrible defenders and no wonder we need a cleanout…Benji has been great hence our great attack stats…but he has woeful defensive stats and thats why he wont be here next year,he should really know that himself…

@Fade-To-Black said in Matty Johns On WT:

If Brooks hasn’t realised this fact himself by now, he most likely never will.
Having Benji gone should be great for Brooks in this respect, he won’t have Benji overcalling him now. If he does not stand up next season and be a dominant playmaker, get rid of him whatever the cost. Sick of hearing this dribble about him year after year.
Was Benji here when Brooks won Dally M HOTY? I can’t remember.

There is only two problems at WT and they are Brooks and Benji.Take last weeks game as an example, we’re in front of the competition leaders, with a bit of luck could be in front by 3 tries. The defence is great. All we need is to retain posession and keep applying pressure. Not one repeat set. Worst kicking game in the comp. How many 5th tackle options worked in our favour? If you’re making 100 tackles more than the opposition you’re going to run out of gas at some point. All the talk in these forums about JAC, Tamou, Christian Welsh…they’ll all run out of gas too unless we get a half with a kicking game. In fact, let’s get Tamou for his kicking game. Even he kicked for a repeat set last week, one more than either of our numpties.

Totally agree with everything in the article except one thing. Brooks is Brooks and won’t change. Brooks doesn’t have the personality or maturity to do so.

Can’t argue much with what he’s had to say. Hopefully Madge can talk him into coming in during preseason to help out.

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