These fans are arguably the most loyal in the NRL. Since 2011 Wests Tigers have failed to make the finals, but these supporters still turn up at the start of every season, their hearts full of hope that this could be their year.
When head coach Michael Maguire said after the 36-22 loss to the Eels yesterday that this team is heading in the right direction I couldn’t help wondering if this is the reward these wonderful fans deserve.
“In the right direction’’.
Let’s think about that for a moment…yep, we have heard it all before.
There’s no doubt this team at times during a game looks like it has improved since last year.
The spine is starting to gel, Daine Laurie, Adam Doueihi, Luke Brooks and Jacob Liddle all playing very well last two starts.
But when you look at the stats, especially the points conceded, well, it’s plainly misery for these long suffering fans.
Wests Tigers conceded 36 points against Parramatta, on top of 30 against Canberra, followed by 40 in the match with the Roosters at Campbelltown a week later.
Even in last week’s victory against Newcastle they conceded 20 points, for a tally so far of 126 points leaked.
Every man and his dog knows premierships are won off defence and if Wests Tigers are in the right direction in this regard, God help them if they were going in the wrong direction.
There’s no pleasure in putting the spotlight on the team you follow but the fact is that unless Maguire can improve the defensive capability, sorry fans, but 2021 won’t be our year.
However, the one change Maguire has made to his side for the match with the North Queensland Cowboys at Leichhardt Oval this Sunday may be a clue that he is quietly working on this major flaw in the Wests Tigers.
Moses Mbye, who played well coming off the bench against the Eels, has been named to start in the centres in place of Asu “AJ” Kepaoa.
This points to a bolstering of the defence out wide and is a good move.
The Cowboys won’t be as tough an assignment as the Eels, but Todd Payten’s team is winless after four rounds and will be desperate to improve.
Wests Tigers have won their last eight games against the Cowboys played at Leichhardt Oval, but there’s always a first time.
Fans will want a win, but more than that they deserve to see a better defensive performance from their team.
Sunday’s game at Leichhardt Oval is the club’s first home game at the suburban ground this year, with a blockbuster four-game program set to take place.
The club’s Harvey Norman NSW Women’s Premiership, Jersey Flegg and Knock-On Effect NSW Cup sides will all feature earlier in the day before the NRL game between Wests Tigers and North Queensland kicks off at 4:05pm.
WESTS TIGERS TEAM: ROUND 5
1. Daine Laurie
2. David Nofoaluma
3. James Roberts
4. Moses Mbye
5. Tommy Talau
6. Adam Doueihi
7. Luke Brooks
8. Zane Musgrove
9. Jacob Liddle
10. James Tamou (captain)
11. Luke Garner
12. Luciano Leilua
13. Alex Twal
14. Michael Chee Kam
15. Thomas Mikaele
16. Stefano Utoikamanu
17. Joe Ofahengaue
18. Alex Seyfarth
19. Joey Leilua
20. Jake Simpkin
21. Tuki Simpkins