When your team is two wins and seven losses and finals hopes are going up in smoke there’s not much you can do almost half way through a season.
But you can change the make up of the team and that is just what Wests Tigers coach Michael Maguire has done in the side to take on the Newcastle Knights on Friday night.
The match will signal the start of Magic Round at Suncorp Stadium, which will host all of the NRL round 10 matches.
Wests Tigers and Newcastle will lock horns from 6pm in a match that the Concord based side will be, well, desperately keen, to win.
But they will have to be much, much better than they were in the second Tommy Raudonikis tribute match when they capitulated 36-28 to the Gold Coast Titans at Campbelltown last Saturday night.
With that in mind, and finals hopes almost extinguished, Maguire has controversially named Moses Mbye at five-eighth for the second time this season and moved Adam Doueihi to centre.
Doueihi (pictured above), along with Daine Laurie at fullback, has been one of the few shining lights for the Wests Tigers in season 2021.
Rumours of this positional switch have been getting a good, old social media workout all day today.
But back to the coach’s changes: Tommy Talau’s return from suspension sees him take the place of young Zac Cini, who sadly drops out of the 21-man squad after just two matches in the top grade.
Jacob Liddle has been named to start at hooker for the 50th game of his career, while interchange forward Thomas Mikaele will also bring up the half century of games – all of which have been played in Wests Tigers colours.
Young halfback Jock Madden will become Wests Tigers player #244 after being named alongside Mikaele on the bench, with Shawn Blore set to play his first NRL game of the year.
Madden’s selection will no doubt be seen as a nod and a wink to Luke Brooks (pictured) to pull his socks up, but as far as we are concerned the team’s problems have not been caused by the halfback. Let’s just say there’s some malingering in the engine room that needs attention.
Blore’s inclusion meanwhile sees Stefano Utoikamanu drop back to the reserves, alongside Michael Chee Kam, Jake Simpkin and Tom Amone.
That is a lot of changes to take in, and let’s hope the players are given a full briefing about who will be next to them defending the try line against the Knights, last start winners over Canberra.
WESTS TIGERS TEAM ROUND 10
1. Daine Laurie
2. David Nofoaluma
3. Adam Doueihi
4. Joey Leilua
5. Tommy Talau
6. Moses Mbye
7. Luke Brooks
8. James Tamou (captain)
9. Jacob Liddle
10. Alex Twal
11. Luke Garner
12. Luciano Leilua
13. Joe Ofahengaue
14. Jock Madden
15. Shawn Blore
16. Alex Seyfarth
17. Thomas Mikaele
18. Michael Chee Kam
19. Jake Simpkin
20. Stefano Utoikamanu
21. Tom Amone