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It may still be painful for Wests Tigers players to talk about this year’s near miss, but a fresh start next season with a new major sponsor, new jersey and key player re-signings was the focus yesterday at Leichhardt Oval.Captain Robbie Farah admitted the disappointment of their one-point preliminary final loss still hurt - simply because they knew they had a squad capable of winning the title.
“After 2005 we’ve come to appreciate how hard it is to win a competition. We had great opportunities this year and we fell short,” he said.
"Our dressing shed after the game was pretty sombre.
“Hopefully we remember that hurt and take it into next year and it can help us.”
The Tigers have announced Meriton Apartments as their major sponsor and have re-signed key players Chris Heighington and Todd Payten, forming a strong base for next season.
The Tigers also unveiled a new playing strip - with Lycra panels down either side and a new round collar that players requested to stop their jumpers being pulled.
“I think it’s fair to say the club is at one of the strongest points in its history with the playing roster and the strength of the club off the field,” Farah said.
“We’ve got the squad capable of doing something special in the next couple of years.”
Golden Boot winner Benji Marshall is not basking in the personal successes of 2011.
“I want to get better so I have to work hard, train hard and get ready to play for next season because it’s going to be a big one,” Marshall said.
"It was a great season in terms of the amount of games I played, but I still know I’ve got a lot to improve on.
“When I go back to training it will be the little things, like patience, to direct the team around a lot more and in big situations to be the one who doesn’t panic.”
Farah is keen to make up for a year of near misses.
“This year was a year of near misses for me. I missed out on Origin, fell one game short with the Tigers and missed out on the Four Nations as well,” Farah said.
“I don’t think I played anywhere near as good as I could have.”
While proud of his star five-eighth’s Golden Boot, coach Tim Sheens knows that won’t win games next year.
“Without putting the mock on anyone, half of the Golden Boots have had poor seasons the second year and half have had good years,” Sheens said.
“The reality is that it’s not going to win [Benji] or us a game next year.”
I love it how Sheens always brings things back to reality. Expirience, you can’t beat it.