Sheens takes gloss of all-star match-up
April 21, 2011
It’s been billed as Benji Marshall v Darren Lockyer, but Wests Tigers coach Tim Sheens claims the Good Friday NRL clash against Brisbane will be about much more than the battle of the brilliant playmakers.
Marshall and Lockyer will go head-to-head at NRL level for the last time, barring a match-up in this year’s finals series, with Tigers pivot Marshall out to add some respectability to a 1-3 head-to head record with the Broncos ace.
While Marshall is desperate to turn his side’s fortunes around at the Sydney Football Stadium, Lockyer seems to be getting better as his career winds down, the match-up a preview of their likely clash in next month’s Australia-New Zealand Test.
But Sheens said the work of those around the two superstars would determine Friday night’s winner.
“I suppose they’ll be measured at the end of the game as to who has the better game, but it’s not as if it’s one versus the other, they’re not going to run into each other too many times I don’t think,” Sheens said.
"It’ll be who directs their team the best, who makes the better decisions.
"… it’s not all about Benji and if you do that it makes it more predictable from the point of view of the Broncos.
"But like Darren Lockyer, like Johnathan Thurston, like Scotty Prince, the guys that get a lot of football in their hands, you need to get them a lot of football in their hands.
"But everyone else has to play their part, Robbie Farah and Timmy Moltzen and so on also have to get a fair share of the ball.
“You just can’t go to one player too often and make it easier for them to read where we’re going and what we’re doing.”
The Broncos believe though that as goes Marshall, so go the Tigers.
Coach Anthony Griffin said the New Zealand Test captain would be a target in defence, a predictable claim that meant little to Sheens.
“He’s putting a little bit of pressure on the kid,” Sheens said of Griffin’s comments.
"Every pivot in the game knows that they’ll be put under pressure.
“Darren will be put under plenty of pressure and (Peter) Wallace by us as well, that’s just part and parcel of being a pivot.”
Tigers skipper Farah said there was little doubt Marshall would be up for the clash against Lockyer.
“He doesn’t say much about it, but I know he’d be up for a big game,” Farah said.
"He’s spoken of the respect he’s got for Darren. He knows and we all know it might be the last time we ever play against him.
“It’s going to be a good battle between the two No.6’s - I’m sure whichever one of those players gets the upper hand will go a long way to their side winning the game.”
The Broncos received a blow on match eve with Queensland Origin aspirant Matt Gillett ruled out for 10 weeks with a foot injury, with Dane Carlaw handed a start in the front row.
Sheens will wait until Friday to make a final decision on Wade McKinnon, the fullback still no certainty to return from a hamstring complaint.