Benji keeps changes to bare minimum for Sharks game

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Despite a 32-12 loss to Canberra, Wests Tigers coach Benji Marshall has made minimal changes for Saturday’s Round 3 match against Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks at Leichhardt Oval.

Justin Olam will make his first appearance for the club against the Sharks on Saturday and become Wests Tigers player #281.

The PNG international comes into the centres replacing Starford To’a, who has undergone ankle surgery and is expected to miss eight weeks.

Olam, pictured above at training earlier this year, was rested last week after picking up a knee injury in the pre-season challenge match against the Dragons. 

Aidan Sezer has been named to start in the halves alongside Lachlan Galvin, with Jayden Sullivan to come off the bench.

The only other change to the run-on side sees Fonua Pole start at lock with Alex Seyfarth named as an interchange.

Brent Naden has also been included in the extended squad after undergoing post season surgery (shoulder and ankle).

Wests Tigers came up against a red hot Canberra Raiders side in the national capital last Saturday.

Despite getting behind 14-0 early in the game, Marshall said afterward he was proud they were able to regroup quite quickly.

After scoring two tries of their own to take the score to 14-12, the home side upped the ante to finally run away with the win.

I don’t know about any other rugby league commentators, but here in this space we believe in Benji.

But whether the new coach is Benji or someone else, it’s just fair and reasonable to avoid rushing to judgment after one game, or even six.

More like the full season would be the way to go, whatever happens on the scoreboard.

Also, everyone knows that Benji is basically coaching a team he inherited from his predecessor, apart from Olam, who will hopefully add some steel to the defence.

This Saturday Benji’s boys will have the big Leichhardt crowd behind them, and if they can show even some improvement from last week’s outing, they will be a fair chance to get the money against the Sharkies.


1. Jahream Bula

2. Charlie Staines

3. Solomona Faataape

4. Justin Olam

5. Junior Tupou

6. Lachlan Galvin

7. Aidan Sezer

8. Stefano Utoikamanu

9. Apisai Koroisau (c)

10. David Klemmer

11. Isaiah Papali’i

12. John Bateman

13. Fonua Pole


14. Jayden Sullivan

15. Alex Seyfarth

16. Alex Twal

17. Samuela Fainu

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