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Why Wests Tigers are flavour of the month

The Wests Tigers are not leading the premiership and they’re not even likely to make the finals, yet they’re the flavour of the month in the media.

A fly on the wall documentary in which the star is coach Michael Maguire and his F bombs is currently showing on pay TV on Monday nights.

Today the spotlight is on utility player Moses Mbye, who has been granted a release from the final year of his contract.

But the Wests Tigers soap opera has been taking place on TV and smart phone screens just about all season.

A lot of it has been speculation about their future and whether it’s at Concord, Campbelltown or even Perth.

Mercifully, after the 24-16 win over the Cowboys, which kept their slim finals hopes alive, Wests Tigers are preparing to take on Sharks this weekend.

The finals requirement for Wests Tigers is simple: just keep winning and hope other results go their way.

They will face the Panthers a week later and then, in the final round of the minor premiership, the certain wooden spooners of 2021, Canterbury Bulldogs.

It has to be said that while the team performance overall left a lot to be desired, there were some positive signs during the 80 minutes in Townsville.

Luke Brooks celebrates a try by Kelma Tuilagi against the Cowboys.

To start with, Luke Brooks was outstanding in his game management. The half is playing a really smart game these days, sprinkled with the odd error.

“Brooksy’’ has always been a very good halfback, but what his critics ignore is that he’s had some mugs around him over the years.

This season, Brooks seems to have decided that he will just play his game and see what happens.

To be fair, he’s part of a reasonably talented spine in 2021.

Unfortunately, one of the band members, fullback Daine Laurie, is out for the season and Moses Mbye has slotted in there, and doing a reasonable job.

Adam Doueihi at six is just a massive asset for this club, and his confidence looks like becoming infectious with his young teammates.

The fourth member of the spine, hooker Jacob Liddle, is finally maturing really well.

But the real standout in the second half of the season is giant young prop Stefano Utoikamanu.

He is a real prospect, which means Wests Tigers fans are now asking – tongue in cheek – when’s he going to the Roosters?

Either way, Utoikamanu will play Origin for NSW next year, he’s that good.

His hit ups with the ball will be vital if Wests Tigers are to beat the tough Sharks outfit.

In the meantime, Maguire has this afternoon named his team for the match, which is scheduled to kick off 3pm on Saturday at Rockhampton.

Thomas Mikaele is out after he accepted a one-game suspension along with Jacob Liddle.

Rookie hooker Jake Simpkin will start in the number nine jersey.

Young forwards Kelma Tuilagi, who was impressive last week against the Cowboys, and Tuki Simpkins, retain their place on the bench.

THE TEAM IS:

1. Moses Mbye
2. David Nofoaluma
3. Tommy Talau
4. Michael Chee Kam
5. Ken Maumalo
6. Adam Doueihi
7. Luke Brooks
8. Stefano Utoikamanu
9. Jake Simpkin
10. James Tamou
11. Shawn Blore
12. Luciano Leilua
13. Alex Twal

INTERCHANGE:
14. Joe Ofahengaue
15. Kelma Tuilagi
16. Tuki Simpkins
17. James Roberts





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