Position on ladder means nothing to Sheens
NRL Insider13:30 AEST Wed Aug 5 2009
Sheens says he is not interested in the opposition (AAP)
Wests Tigers are making a late charge for the NRL Finals Series but the run home could prove difficult with games against the Roosters, Sharks, Eels, Titans and Bulldogs. Coach Tim Sheens, in his seventh season at the helm remains as defiant as ever that his team will be in the finals mix; he took time out with WWOS.com.au’s rugby league writer Jane Aubrey.
Jane Aubrey: Your team showed a lot of courage hanging in until the final seconds of the match against the Sea Eagles…
Tim Sheens: Yes with the three wins previous and the bye we’d given ourselves half a chance again and Monday night’s match (against Manly) was going to be a bit of a litmus test for us with regards to where we are at. Although we were hanging on in the end I think we’d done enough early on to earn the right to win the game.
JA: Was it just a little bit frustrating that the Tigers defence was near impenetrable on the line but Anthony Watmough continually cut his way through mid-field?
TS: Off the line it’s always a little bit easier to defend. You’re not 10 metres back to start with in many cases, the play-the-ball is that much closer so it’s not that hard get up and off the line. Out in mid-field sometimes, depending how quick the play-the-ball is and the angles that players run, a guy like Watmough becomes very difficult to contain. He’s been beating better players than what I’ve got here this season that’s for sure. Watmough’s playing very well so we were a bit disappointed that he got through us a couple of times but at the end of the day we scrambled well and did enough to win the game.
JA: Does a finish like that make you nervous?
TS: Nervous wouldn’t be the right word – anxious I suppose. I was trying to concentrate on solving the problems we were having at that point. We just didn’t get the ball in the second half. We had four penalties in the first nine minutes and Manly got five in the rest of the game – we didn’t receive a penalty in over 70 minutes of play, which is highly unusual and a bit disappointing from my point of view. I think in professional sport the amount of possession you get seems to have a follow-through on the scoreline so at the end of day I think it was a game played in two halves. You’re too busy to be nervous but I think at the end of the game it was certainly a relief put it that way.
JA: Would a loss to Manly have meant that any hopes of making the top eight were over?
TS: It’s hard to say. You can win every game and still not make it, the competition is funny at the moment. With five to go we didn’t want to lose to Manly. There’s every chance you will lose one of the last five but what we don’t want to lose is our momentum. The way that the competition is shaping and the teams that are right behind us, in particular Parramatta and South Sydney, there is still a lot of footy to be played. At the moment, with the win over Manly we’ve sort of put our foot on their throat and are keeping our noses in front. We’ve still got the Eels to play and with them one point behind, that may become a defining game. They’ve got to keep winning and so do we. Right at the moment I just need to concentrate on this week’s game against the Roosters. With a Monday game your preparation is usually shorter and it was such a physical game (against Manly) as well as being mentally exhausting. So recovery is a big issue for us this week and being ready to be up in time for the match against the Roosters because they came up with a good win over Newcastle who are in front of us. It reminds us to respect every team you play and where they are on the ladder means absolutely nothing.
JA: Looking at the Tigers’ run home it won’t be a piece of cake by any means with teams like the Roosters and the Sharks who have nothing to lose and are capable of an upset. How do you mentally prepare your team for games like that?
TS: Preparation is about each individual preparing themselves – the coaching staff doing their job and the players preparing individually. You cannot afford having one or two of your players not being on, on the day. We’re not a team full of superstars at Wests Tigers, we’ve got some good players but at the end of the day we have to play well as a squad and that has been our focus for some weeks now.
JA: Who do you see as being the danger teams to make a late charge into the finals?
TS: I’m not interested in that. Those sorts of things are for the tipsters and the fans and the media. I don’t take any notice of that sort of thing. There are 10 points on offer and we’re out to get as many as we can and hope that that’s enough to have a shot at the play-offs. You start wishing and hoping that something might happen; that someone might do something for you. If you start relying on that it distracts you from what your job at hand is.
JA: Your decision to move Benji Marshall from half to five-eighth seems to have paid off with both he and Tim Moltzen working well together in the halves …
TS: I’ll allow that to be said because people have said Benji can’t play seven and he should play six. He’s playing no different except he’s controlling his game more. What Moltzen has bought is a little bit more ammunition to the other side of the field. It doesn’t mean Benji’s playing any better and it doesn’t mean that Benji hasn’t got less pressure on him – it just means that they’re sharing the workload a little better.
JA: Are you able to shed some light on the Daine Laurie situation? There seems to be conflicting reports that he wants to leave the Tigers…
TS: He’s got a year to go on his contract and we’ve got an option on him and we’ve got no intention of releasing him. Nor has he asked for a release or indicated that that’s what he wants. He missed training, he was dropped and the team has won three games since so that’s been unfortunate for him that he’s given someone else a chance and they’ve grabbed it. He’s playing ok back in the Premier League back at Wests so he’s put his name back up there for selection. At the moment with Keith Galloway and Chris Heighington coming back last round that’s made it tough for him. Daine’s still in the learning stages of his career and he’s got to keep working at the little things in his game on and off the field and I’m sure he’ll get his chance.