Tigers sure they can still win title
September 14, 2010 - 6:54PM
Even in the face of extreme heartbreak and a horrific injury toll, the Wests Tigers have never been surer they can win the NRL grand final.
From the outside, it would appear the odds are heavily stacked against the Tigers as they reluctantly head to Canberra to play the red-hot Raiders this weekend.
They were left an emotional and angry wreck after last Saturday’s devastating 100-minute loss to the Roosters and are filthy about being sent to a sold out Canberra Stadium on Friday night despite finishing third on the ladder.
Then there’s the more immediate concern over the injuries which have ravaged preparation, including star five-eighth Benji Marshall battling to recover from a knee problem.
But through the negativity threatening to overcome the Tigers with their season on the line, assistant coach Royce Simmons declared he’s never been more certain that his side can go all the way.
“I’ve never been so sure of anything. We can win the grand final,” Simmons defiantly announced to the media on Tuesday.
"We’ve been getting ready all year for games like this, for semi-finals.
"We were fantastic for the first 60 minutes last week, probably the only thing we did a little bit wrong last week was when we got that 13-point buffer.
"Instead of putting the knife in, I think we probably started to get ready for this week’s game or having a rest. We got ahead of ourselves.
"You’re saying Canberra is on a roll, I think we’re on a bit of a roll ourselves. Now we’ve hit a bit of a stumbling block with injuries, but that’s what you’ve got to be about.
“We finished third in the competition for a start, we’re around the mark and I think over the last six weeks we’ve been building and building.”
At Tigers training on Tuesday, there were as many players off the paddock as on it, and staff won’t know until game-day who will actually take the field.
Centre Blake Ayshford has been cleared of having glandular fever, but a virus has him in doubt.
Chris Lawrence has been named on the bench, but the Tigers won’t know until later in the week whether he can make a premature comeback from a fractured jaw.
Fullback Wade McKinnon and centre Geoff Daniela are no chance, and there will be no 11th hour return for Tim Moltzen.
Marshall is the number one concern. He’s keen, but Simmons doesn’t subscribe to the theory that Benji on one leg is better than not having him there at all.
Second rower Liam Fulton is on standby to slip into five-eighth if required.
“I don’t think any player … if he’s not somewhere near his best is worth the go around. A player on one leg I don’t think can do you the job,” Simmons said.
"Benji wants to play, we hope he’ll play but we can’t make that decision … a bit of common sense has to come into it.
"We’ll leave that right up to an hour before kick-off.
"(Halfback) Robert Lui’s ready (to take on extra pressure), and Liam’s not actually a billy goat by the way, he’s played in a grand final. There’s a No.9 (captain Robbie Farah) who’s not a bad footballer either … so we’re not going to panic that much about that.
“We’ve won games without Benji.”
Glad Blake isn’t as bad as first thought hope he will play certainly didn’t look sick last saturday night he had a blinder!! I can’t see Lawrence being risked too soon after surgery (although I was wrong about them player Murdoch) agree with Royce no use playing Benji if not fit, it would hurt the team too much if he comes off early and leaves us a replacement short, hope Lui has another big game.
Former Test hooker Royce Simmons says Tigers can beat the odds to win competition
Stuart Honeysett From: The Australian September 15, 2010 12:00AM
WESTS Tigers still don’t know know who will take the field for them in Friday night’s sudden-death semi-final against the Raiders.
But assistant coach Royce Simmons believes they can win at Canberra Stadium and advance to win the premiership.
Both teams named their sides yesterday and most interest centred around the Tigers, given several players are battling injury or illness, including Benji Marshall, Blake Ayshford and Chris Lawrence.
The club is already resigned to being without Wade McKinnon and Geoff Daniela and has ruled out a miracle return for Tim Moltzen.
Despite the crippling injury toll, and the fact the club is still coming to grips with its heartbreaking qualifying final loss against the Sydney Roosters in golden-point time last Saturday night, Simmons said he was confident the club could add another title to its 2005 premiership.
“I’ve never been so sure of anything – we can win the grand final,” former Test hooker Simmons said.
"We were fantastic for the first 60 minutes last week. Probably the only thing we did a little bit wrong was when we got that 13-point buffer, instead of putting the knife in. I think we probably started to get ready for this week’s game or having a rest. We got ahead ourselves and probably lost our momentum a little bit, got a series of injuries quickly and got down to 12 players.
“So I’ve never been (as) sure of anything, we can win the grand final.”
It would be a herculean effort for the Tigers to topple the in-form Raiders in front of a sell-out crowd at Canberra Stadium, given there were seven players named in their 21-man squad yesterday who were unable to train.
Of all the injured players, it is Marshall who could hold the key to their chances. Backrower Liam Fulton has been nominated as the player most likely to take over at five-eighth if their regular No 6 fails to beat a knee injury.
Marshall has faith in a Power Balance wristband that has become the latest fad for athletes and is designed to improve performance. And he has been using an icing machine developed in the US by NASA technology.
“We’ve won games without Benji. It all gets hard but can any of the other sides win it without their half and five-eighth . . . same thing I think,” Simmons said.
While the Tigers boast a 7-3 record over Canberra from their last 10 matches, the Raiders hold a 6-5 win record at Canberra Stadium stretching back to 2000.
Prop Todd Payten said the Tigers have nothing to fear.
“They’ve got the jump on us a few times and we were lucky last time we were down there. And being a semi-final I expect both teams to be up and firing from the start,” Payten said.
“They’re playing a good brand of footy, they’ve got a monstrous pack with a lot of speed outside so the blueprint for most games is to win the middle and hope for the backs to do the job.”