Michael Maguire all season has seemed to be the best thing going for Wests Tigers.
The man has tried just about everything in trying to mould a winning team from the bits and pieces roster left to him by the club’s former “bus driver’’.
It has been a commendable effort, but at the same time it just felt like an exercise in futility, especially for those who have been following the club’s fortunes for some years.
Last week’s terrible performance in going down 38-16 to the Roosters was the death knell as far as finals footy is concerned.
Yes, mathematically, five wins from as many matches will help them scrape into eighth, but that would just be wishful thinking.
The brutal reality is that this will be the tenth season in a row Wests Tigers will have failed to play finals.
Maybe some good will come from it if one more failure results in a real shake up of the joint.
Maguire, who has just named his team for the round 16 clash against the Penrith Panthers – where that former “bus driver’’ is now employed – could be the man that does just that.
But in the meantime he has to prepare a team to face the rampaging Panthers at the foot of the mountains.
The home team will be gunning for 11 consecutive victories against Wests Tigers on Saturday night.
What will the Wests Tigers be gunning for?
Last week against the Roosters it was a do or die match and they failed to step up.
This week it’s just pride on the line against the competition leaders, but will it be enough to avoid humiliation once again in 2020?
At least Harry Grant is back.
The brilliant young hooker has not played since suffering a knee injury against the New Zealand Warriors in Round 12, but has been named to start in the number nine jersey.
Grant’s return sees Jacob Liddle – who himself only recently returned from a long term injury – drop back to the bench alongside Matt Eisenhuth, Elijah Taylor and Shawn Blore.
Blore is another new face in the squad this week, with Thomas Mikaele and Alex Twal both promoted to the run-on side after successful comebacks from injury last weekend.
Josh Reynolds drops back to the reserves alongside Chris Lawrence, Asu Kepaoa and Sam McIntyre, who returns to the 21-man squad in place of Russell Packer.
1. Adam Doueihi
2. David Nofoaluma
3. Joseph Leilua
4. Moses Mbye (captain)
5. Tommy Talau
6. Luke Brooks
7. Benji Marshall (captain)
8. Josh Aloiai
9. Harry Grant
10. Thomas Mikaele
11. Luke Garner
12. Luciano Leilua
13. Alex Twal
14. Matt Eisenhuth
15. Elijah Taylor
16. Jacob Liddle
17. Shawn Blore
18. Chris Lawrence
19. Sam McIntyre
20. Josh Reynolds
21. Asu “AJ” Kepaoa