Injuries won’t dull Souths clash: Sheens
May 13, 2011 - 4:34PM
For two teams who entered the 2011 NRL season with such high hopes, things haven’t gone quite to plan for Wests Tigers and South Sydney.
Entering round ten, injury and erratic form has limited the talent-laden clubs with a combined total of just seven victories - one fewer than ladder leaders St George Illawarra.
Both teams will be missing international stars for Saturday night’s fixture at ANZ Stadium; South Sydney their front row of Sam Burgess (ankle) and Roy Asotasi (wrist) adding to the Tigers’ loss of Gareth Ellis and Todd Payten.
Both backlines are lacking serious firepower in South Sydney centre Greg Inglis (hip) and Tigers Lote Tuqiri (arm) and Chris Lawrence (hip).
But Tigers coach Tim Sheens has not focused on the Rabbitohs’ injury ward at all this week because the memory of an understrength Bunnies outfit upsetting the Tigers 34-30 in round 22 last season is still far too fresh in his mind.
“We are very aware of those things so our preparation has to be spot on,” Sheens said on Friday.
“We’re desperate for the points and I’m sure they are too.”
In that match Sheens’ men looked to have a comfortable lead before a Dylan Farrell hattrick sparked Souths to a golden-point victory, something skipper Robbie Farah has told his teammates to note.
“They had an understrength side and came back and beat us in extra time, so there’s no way in the world we’ll be taking them lightly,” Farah added.
Sheens revealed that while the progress on Tuqiri and Lawrence’s injuries has been positive, he doesn’t expect to have a full-strength lineup until late in the season.
“We’re still a month or eight weeks away from being hopefully anywhere near full strength,” he said.
"In the meantime it’s about giving the opportunity to the younger ones.
“Against Canberra they performed well, against Brisbane the week before they didn’t so we have to try to get some consistency and we need another win desperately this week.”
Farah said last weekend’s 49-12 trouncing of Canberra, which ignited the Tigers’ season, could be put down to the return of halfback Robert Lui and an improved kicking game from their attacking trident of Lui, himself and five-eighth Benji Marshall.
“In weeks previous we were coming up with the wrong options on the last tackle and that really put pressure on our defence and that’s why we were conceding so many points,” he said.
The match also represents Farah’s last chance to stake his claim for the NSW hooking role ahead of the team announcement on Sunday afternoon - but the crafty rake said he didn’t believe how he played this weekend would make any difference.
“I’ve been playing footy for a long time, I think the coach and the selectors know what I’m about and I don’t think one game is going to change their opinion of me,” he said.
SHEENS WARY OF DANGEROUS RABBITOHS
12/05/2011 10:37:45 AM
Wests Tigers Head Coach Tim Sheens has said that his team will need to keep a close eye on Rabbitohs halfback Chris Sandow this Saturday night at ANZ Stadium.
Despite their 30-6 win over South Sydney a month ago , Sheens is well aware that his team will need to be on their game to ensure the likes of Sandow don’t cause too much trouble.
“They have a lot of strike everywhere but Sandow does play on confidence and when he’s got that confidence up he runs more and likes to test the forwards. We’ll have to be on our toes with him and put him under plenty of pressure.
“The same goes for (John) Sutton and their other ball players. We’ll need to keep them all busy so hopefully it takes a lot of the good decisions they make and turns them into poor decisions.”
Sheens also admitted what a blessing the signing of Matt Utai has become.
“Matt has been a revelation for us. He’s jumped in like a rookie really. He’s been a 100 mile an hour. He’s good for the place and he’s making plenty of yards for the side. We’re really happy with him.”
Watch the Wests Tigers in action live on Fox Sports this Saturday night from 7.30pm