Tigers likely to lose fullback Wade McKinnon with hamstring injury Brent Read From: The Australian September 11, ?LATE last month, Wests Tigers coach Tim Sheens predicted his side would struggle to make an impact without a specialist fullback.
By that, he meant Wade McKinnon.
Lo and behold, the Tigers are expected to open the finals tonight against the Sydney Roosters without McKinnon, who continues to struggle with a hamstring injury.
In McKinnon’s absence, Sheens is expected to start with Mitch Brown at fullback and Geoff Daniela in the centres.
The Tigers coach yesterday stressed he would give McKinnon every chance to take his place but it appears a forlorn hope.
It is understood the former Warriors custodian, lured to the Tigers mid-season, didn’t train when the team had its final hit-out at the Sydney Football Stadium yesterday.
“Our major worry is Wade McKinnon I think, and Brycey Gibbs,” Sheens said. "I think Bryce will be right but Wade is doubtful. I am giving him to the last minute as a senior player.
.“I will let (his replacement) be known an hour before the game. It might take me until then to make that decision to be honest.”
Sheens’ plan to delay naming a replacement for McKinnon until the 11th hour continues the psychological battle between the respective camps in the lead-up to a game which is expected to attract a crowd of more than 30,000 to the SFS. The sides have met three times already this year, with the Roosters winning on all occasions. Although his side has been on the receiving end, Sheens suggested those results would heap pressure on the Roosters and their coach Brian Smith.
“I think it would be more of a concern for Brian than for me, that just means we’re going to turn up,” Sheens said.
“What he’ll be worried about is will his team turn up.”
Sheens also took a swipe at Smith’s penchant for naming extended squads. Smith has named a seven-man bench for tonight’s game.
“Brian’s named a squad of hundreds so you won’t know until just before game-time,” Sheens said. “Same usual thing, that’s fine, I’m not particularly focused on his side. I know pretty much where they’ll play and how they’ve been playing so that’s all we can do.”
While Smith wasn’t talking yesterday, Roosters prop Jason Ryles weighed into the psychological battle on his coach’s behalf.
“The mind games are well and truly under way now,” he said.
"Definitely we take a bit of confidence out of (the two wins) but it’s a whole new ball game now.
“The key to going into the finals is keeping everything as normal as possible and just sort of running off the excitement of finally getting here. So he hasn’t changed too much at all, it’s just mainly concentrating on limiting their attack.”