Tigers close ranks as they gear up for finals assault
September 4, 2011
The Wests Tigers went into lockdown in the 81st minute of last night’s hard-fought win against the Cronulla Sharks - and how.
Bullocking props and fleet-footed backs zipped their lips tighter than any nurse or doctor who’d ever signed a confidentiality form to work at a Hollywood rehab clinic for the rich, famous and shameless.
Outside of their skipper, Robbie Farah, none of the players wanted to talk to the media.
On the subject of the team leaving Shark Park for “home”, coach Tim Sheens sounded more like a character in a Chuck Norris war movie charged with the duty of evacuating wounded marines and terrified orphans from the battle zone when he barked through his beard ‘‘we leave together’’.
Kids who were getting footy jumpers signed by their heroes were able to ask them the pertinent questions - and more - that the league world wanted answered after the Tigers won their eighth match in a row - apparently equalling a club record - sealed fourth place and booked a qualifying final against defending premiers St George Illawarra on Friday.
They, too, the snotty-nosed brats, brushed the press with pure petulance when they were asked what Benji, Moltzen, Gibbs and Lote had to say about the victory. Or, even, their favourite ice cream.
The club’s media officer, Wayne Cousins, did his best to rally some enthusiasm from the stars to talk, but he may as well have asked them to don a red wig, a blouse and go sell the carbon tax to the convoy of no-confidence crowd.
Finals football had officially started, and if tyrants around the world felt under siege, as their downtrodden stand up and risk life and limb for their right to be free, they ought to thank their lucky stars they weren’t born NRL coaches - or cursed, even, to be one of their players.
The world is against them this time of year, even though thousands of their fans had traipsed across Sydney to cheer them on, and there weren’t too many negatives that could have come out of the 80 tough minutes of football which definitely asked questions of the Tigers, but they answered them in the end.
John Skandalis, who played front row in the Wests Tigers’ 2005 team and now works as the team’s conditioner, understood better than any of the wolves who forced their way through the dressing-room door, armed with a note pad or tape recorder. He put it in perspective.
Now, you see, is the time for butterflies because everything is on the line. It was noteworthy, and concise, and his grace to offer something deeply appreciated, because the story deadline was looming, but it would have been a headline if he was still playing.
Finals football, the siege of Shark Park, wolves at the door … the semis have come. And the real punch line to this is the Tigers are the code’s good guys!