The young kiwi, Benji Marshall is again the talk of the town in NRL Rugby League circles, as he has broken his collarbone and will sit out until late in the NRL season.
Surprisingly the Tigers grew a leg when Benji Marshall left the field last week and even more surprising was the fact that Brett Hodgson was missing in action too. The Tigers, who were big outsiders in this match up – kept up the pace and raced away for a nice win against the fancied Melbourne Storm.
As NRL news reported, Tigers hooker Robbie Farrah continues his climb to the top of the rake ranks as he puts his classy stamp on the modern game. Insightful, energetic and choc full of guile – he is a dynamic meter eater and sets such a good platform for the Tigers outside backs and makes the task of those mobile forwards so much easier.
The Tigers have found form in the last few weeks and knocked off some decent scalps. The thing that impresses me about the Tigers is the fact that the players in the top squad are of the ideal age for competing in the NRL competition.
Rugby League internationally and more specifically the NRL have moved towards younger players and certainly blooding them much earlier. The Tigers were sprinkled with youngsters when they took the title in 2005 and so many of the mob are now at their peak.
Guys like Bryce Gibbs, Bronson Harrison, Dean Collis and also Liam Fulton – who gets his time to shine in the big boots of Benji at five eighth. The Tigers are littered with these kinds of guys who have the physical ability to perform and the mental strength and experience which will allow them to compete and win the big matches.
A perfect example of the opposite is St George Illawarra. Currently fielding a young side due to massive injury woes, the current squad is certainly not low on talent – guys like Chase Stanley and Richie ‘Rich’ Williams will certainly be future stars, but simply haven’t had enough time in first grade to compete week in, week out.
Back to the Tigers, in addition to these players in their prime – you have seasoned campaigners in the mix who just know how to get the job done and rarely lose their heads. Guys like Todd Payten, Jason Moodie and Ben Galea. Sure, these boys might be a yard slower than the youngsters – but don’t doubt their value every week. Knowing where to position themselves in defence, knowing the habits of regular opposing players and more importantly knowing when the slow the game down or lift the tempo to grab a penalty.
Time will tell us soon enough, but I think the Wests Tigers will continue their upward spiral in form and won’t suffer too much without Benji Marshall. They are fortunate to be able to inject Fulton into pivot and now have the boom rookie Chris Lawrence who slots in out wide and yet again he showed how talented he is in finding that try line.
NRL News predicted the West Tigers to snatch a top 8 spot this year, and yes we copped a lot of criticism. This latest Benji Marshall saga is still only a minor setback for the Tiggers – and I believe they will continue to go from strength to strength.