After 20 rounds it’s hard to decide which is worse: watching the Wests Tigers play or previewing their next game.
Funny thing is the expectations are the same before each of those events take place every week.
And mostly these expectations have been dashed just about every week in 2021.
The rot set in from round one and we didn’t need a fly on the wall TV documentary to remind us what a long season this has been for fans of the joint venture club.
So after last Friday’s diabolical capitulation to the NZ Warriors, when they lost 18-16 after leading 10-0, there was an expectation coach Michael Maguire would show some flair in choosing the side to take on the Bulldogs this Sunday.
You know, throw some youth in there, tell old fellows like the slow, lumbering James Tamou they can rest up the rest of the season.
In the backs, and after Daine Laurie’s injury last week, surely Zac Cini would win selection once again, 11 games after his debut.
Well, Maguire didn’t do anything of the sort.
He’s put Moses Mbye – who’s on the way out of Concord – in there as fullback, dropped Alex Twal to the bench and brought back Tamou – for what I know not.
Maguire must still think his team can make the finals for the first time in 10 years is the only reason I can think for his conservative selections.
It’s like shutting the gate after the horse has bolted.
There are five matches left and the Wests Tigers are scheduled to play the Bulldogs twice.
They will be the bookends to matches with the Cowboys, Sharks and Panthers in between.
As a fan, I hope they win them all and make the play-offs, but as someone with at least half a brain will tell you, the Wests Tigers winning five in a row in 2021? Tell them they’re dreaming.
Michael Chee Kam will be moving from the bench to the centres to cover for Mbye, while Cini is at least named on the bench.
Thomas Mikaele also returns from injury and goes straight into the starting side.
Also on the bench with Cini and Twal is Joe Ofahengaue and last week’s debutant Kelma Tuilagi.
THE WESTS TIGERS TEAM IS:
1. Moses Mbye
2. David Nofoaluma
3. Michael Chee Kam
4. Tommy Talau
5. Ken Maumalo
6. Adam Doueihi
7. Luke Brooks
8. Stefano Utoikamanu
9. Jacob Liddle
10. James Tamou (captain)
11. Luciano Leilua
12. Shawn Blore
13. Thomas Mikaele
14. Alex Twal
15. Zac Cini
16. Joe Ofahengaue
17. Kelma Tuilagi
18. Tuki Simpkins
19. Tom Amone
20. Jock Madden
21. Jake Simpkin