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Crunch time at Wests Tigers brings more tinkering from Maguire

Considering the pressure he’s under, the surprise is that Wests Tigers coach Michael Maguire has made so few changes to the side that will tackle Brisbane Broncos on Sunday.

Maguire has named two debutants, – Junior Pauga to start at centre while Tuki Simpkins will join the bench.

Which means that the Adam Doueihi experiment is over and he shifts from centre back to five-eighth.

The familiar domino effect of Maguire’s tinkering, which he has done all season, forces Moses Mbye back to the bench.

In other changes – or tinkering, take your pick – Thomas Mikaele has been named at lock for the first time in his career while Stefano Utoikamanu starts in the front row after featuring as 20th man for the NSW Origin squad.

It means Alex Twal and Joe Ofahengaue will be on the bench alongside Mbye and Tuki Simpkins.

But the tinkering stops short of giving James Robert and James Tamou a spell, despite these two being out of form for a while now.

Adam Doueihi, who has been one of the few positives for Wests Tigers, is returning to five-eighth.

After the 38-22 defeat at the hands of Souths, Maguire lamented he needed “men’’ to lead the side out of the wilderness.

Which was a change from his reaction to losses previously, when the mantra was “this is not who we are, blah, blah, blah’’.

If the Wests Tigers put in another poor show against the Broncos at Suncorp this Sunday, my prediction is for the club board to become involved.

And let’s just say it’s not a waste of time having Tim Sheens arriving soon at the club to ostensibly run the football department.

This should have been a rebuilding year, but instead it has become the year of tinkering at the margins.

With seven rounds to go, Wests Tigers are 14th and even finishing ninth – their favourite spot in the past 10 seasons – might be out of the question in 2021.

 WESTS TIGERS V BRISBANE BRONCOS:

1. Daine Laurie
2. David Nofoaluma
3. Junior Pauga
4. James Roberts
5. Ken Maumalo
6. Adam Doueihi
7. Luke Brooks
8. Stefano Utoikamanu
9. Jacob Liddle
10. James Tamou (captain)
11. Luke Garner
12. Luciano Leilua
13. Thomas Mikaele

INTERCHANGE:
14. Joe Ofahengaue
15. Alex Twal
16. Tuki Simpkins
17. Moses Mbye

RESERVES:
18. Michael Chee Kam
19. Tommy Talau
20. Alex Seyfarth
21. Shawn Blore


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