Sheens: Stakes higher than '05
23/09/2010 6:33 PM
Wests Tigers coach Tim Sheens admits the stakes are higher heading into Saturday night’s preliminary final against St George Illawarra than they were in 2005 when his team swept to an unexpected premiership victory.
While he concedes the current team still hasn’t convinced some critics it can go all the way, the veteran coach believes the pressure to succeed is far greater than the ‘under-the-radar’ campaign of five years ago.
“We’d already over-achieved once we made the top four, let alone the semis,” Sheens said of 2005.
“Everything was a bit devil-may-care in respect of we didn’t care if we won or lost.”
“We just kept going. If we we’re going to have a (end-of-season) drink on the Monday we were going to have a drink on the Monday.”
“We just kept pushing those Mondays back.”
“It’s a little different this year. It’s a different dynamic to '05.”
While five years is a long time in rugby league, fate has conspired to again throw the Tigers in against the Dragons for a spot in the grand final.
The teams squared off in the same game in 2005, the Tigers defying the odds to overwhelm the hot favourites and book a spot in the decider.
Sheens knows the key to pulling off a similar heist before a big ANZ Stadium crowd rests with his side’s ability to get off to a good start.
“We want to start fast, every side does,” he said.
“We’ll be trying to jump out of the blocks.”
“Our aim will be to come out hard but I don’t think that’s any secret.”
The match pits Sheens against long-time rival Wayne Bennett, the two sharing 10 premierships and close to 50 years in the NRL between them
But the Tigers boss played down the significance of the head-to-head battle.
“Wayne and I have been in the business for a while (and) I enjoy beating his side, whoever he’s coaching, but it’s not personal,” Sheens said
“I don’t look at the contest against another coach.”
“I look at the team he’s got playing on the day – who’s playing where – and concentre more on that.”
Asked if there was more pressure on Bennett’s Dragons given the club’s 31-year premiership drought and record of finals meltdowns, Sheens replied: “I’ve got enough pressure on myself and us than worrying about what’s happening over in Dragon territory.”
“They’re in a good position but we give ourselves every chance to win the game.”