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Exiting stars motivating Tigers
September 15, 2011 - 6:54PM
Wests Tigers boss Stephen Humphreys says the NRL club’s midseason rough patch was exaggerated, but concedes the departure of several big names is motivating the side.
Tigers players have referred to the decision to allow the likes of Bryce Gibbs, Andrew Fifita (both Cronulla) and Tim Moltzen (St George Illawarra) to head elsewhere as a speedhump in their season that needed to be overcome.
The squad has done that, storming to a club record nine straight wins ahead of Friday night’s semi-final showdown with the Warriors.
“I think it’s been really overplayed,” Humphreys said of midseason reports of turmoil within the club.
"It is a tough circumstance when you’ve got some changes happening to your roster and every club goes through it.
"We hadn’t been through it for a number of years so I guess when it eventually did happen for us it was going to be a bit of a shock.
“I think we’ve weathered that storm and everyone’s happy with the way things have gone over the last couple of months.”
As well as Gibbs, Fifita and Moltzen, Wade McKinnon will head to Super League while Chris Heighington, Beau Ryan and Liam Fulton were all linked to moves elsewhere before confirming they would stay with the Tigers.
Humphreys said the exiting players, who join assistant coach Peter Gentle (Hull) and high performance manager Steve Folkes (Dragons), had galvanised the squad.
“I think it is a motivating factor for a group that’s very tight like our group,” he said.
“I think it can be and has been overplayed but it is in the mix.”
Humphreys said there was no concern the club had made the wrong call on the departures and the recruitment of Adam Blair, Joel Reddy and Matt Bell.
“Decisions were made, each of the players that are moving are moving to somewhere where they’re going to have the next phase of their career,” he said.
"A number of those, it was their prompting to do it so, no, everyone’s settled now.
“It’s just the way the game has evolved now and it might not be everyone’s preference but it is the way it is and we all try and manage that as best we can.”
Coach Tim Sheens declined to speak about the Sydney Football Stadium clash with the Warriors at Kangaroos training on Thursday.
But former captain and 2005 premiership player Mark O’Neill described the current squad as superior to his grand final winning team-mates.
“They are far better players today than six years ago,” O’Neill told website NRL.com.
"Benji Marshall is not only perhaps the Tigers’ best, he is arguably the game’s best.
“All these guys were just pups a few years back.”