The Wests Tigers will try to take advantage of the expected faster game in 2009 by curbing their expansive play and resorting to plenty of metre eating. Utility Dene Halatau confirming that a “back to basics” style could get them back into the Top 8 for the first time since their Premiership in 2005.
The expansive play employed by Wests during 2005 could be reigned in at a time when 2 referees are expected to help speed up play, the thinking from the Tigers is that they safety of dummy half and closer to the ruck running could be the answer.
“We’ve definitely been rocks or diamonds at different stages of the last three years,” said Halatau.
“Your goal as a first grader and as a team is to find consistency.
“Look at teams like Melbourne and Manly for the past two or three years have been very consistent.
“We want to develop that within our team.
“We want to have that culture where every game we play teams are very wary of us.
“I know teams are worried about our attack sometimes but they know within the first 20 minutes which team is going to turn up and that is something we want to rectify which is why we’ve gone back to basics.
“We’ve pretty much simplified (our game plan) for the first few weeks.
“It’s the time of year when mistakes are made … we’re trying to keep it as simple as possible and nail down the basics.”
With one of the most mobile forward packs in recent years, many expect the Tigers to benefit heavily from the new changes in 2009. Throw in the likes of the scheming Robbie Farah at dummy half, small men like Benji Marshall and Liam Fulton are also expected to pierce defence lines retreating at high speed.
Apart from English import Gareth Ellis, there are few changes at Wests in terms of new recruits. With some average seasons in recent years, time is ticking for the current crop of players to improve on poor recent showings. With departures year after year from their 2005 winning squad, the team risks being splintered deeply if they can’t achieve improved results fast.
Their expected fast, close knit style along with some luck in terms of injuries this year could see them back amongst the top ranked NRL teams.