It’s not panic stations yet for Wests Tigers after their 0-2 start to the 2023 NRL season.
But the team named this week by head coach Tim Sheens could easily be construed as a signal that nobody is guaranteed selection in first grade – which is a good thing.
Sheens has made several changes to the 22-man squad for the Bulldogs clash at Belmore this Sunday (4pm) due to injury and suspension.
Missing from last week’s team that went down to Newcastle 14-12 are Jake Simpkin and Tommy Talau (concussion protocols), Daine Laurie (knee), and Isaiah Papali’i (one match suspension).
Shawn Blore returns this weekend after missing the Knights match (concussion protocols) as does Fonua Pole (knee).
Junior Tupou and Brandon Wakeham come into the side after back-to-back wins for Western Suburbs Magpies in the NSW Cup, as does last week’s 18th-man, Starford To’a.
Charlie Staines replaces Laurie at fullback with Tupou coming onto the wing, while To’a takes Talau’s place in the centres.
Pole has been named to start at lock with Blore slotting into the second row in place of Papali’i.
English recruit John Bateman has also been included in the extended squad, alongside Jahream Bula, Rua Ngatikaura and Justin Matamua, who is 18th man.
Just like the first round loss to the Titans, also at Leichhardt, the Wests Tigers enjoyed enough possession to comfortably win the game.
But their attack hardly asked a tough question of the Knights defence over 80 minutes of footy.
It is the area of their game which needs to be urgently fixed, and it will be up to Luke Brooks and Adam Doueihi to get their act together.
They may want to form a sub committee that includes star recruit and hooker – and captain – Api Koroisau, and start talking about combinations in attack.
There were none at all in the first two games, so the improvement has to come quickly, starting at Belmore this Sunday.
1. Charlie Staines
2. David Nofoaluma
3. Brent Naden
4. Starford To’a
5. Junior Tupou
6. Adam Doueihi
7. Luke Brooks
8. Stefano Utoikamanu
9. Api Koroisau (c)
10. David Klemmer
11. Asu Kepaoa
12. Shawn Blore
13. Fonua Pole
14. Brandon Wakeham
15. Alex Twal
16. Joe Ofahengaue
17. Brandon Tumeth
18. Justin Matamua
19. Alex Seyfarth
20. John Bateman
21. Rua Ngatikaura
22. Jahream Bula