Wests Tigers coach Tim Sheens has been copping a pasting in the press in the past 24 hours for his decision to name star recruit Lote Tiquiri in the starting lineup for this weekends clash with Manly.
The media loves beating up a good story, but surely they are flogging a dead horse here.
Lote Tiquiri might be 30 years old and hasn’t played Rugby League since 2002, but lets face it – the guy has been playing top flight Rugby Union for many years and has just completed a stint in the UK which will have his fitness on par or better than League players who haven’t played a full-flight game yet.
Union might not have the extensive training regime of the League teams, and yes, there have been some trial games – but nothing substitutes for a full 80 minutes of game time and Lote has had plenty of this over the past few months.
And to top it all off – Lote Tiquiri will be lining up on the wing!
It isn’t rocket science and the talented former Bronco should handle it with little fuss.
Wingers have the advantage of using the sideline in defence and while Tiquiri might have lost a yard of pace over the years, he cannot be classed as slow – so his turn and chase game should be fine. Young Tim Moltzen has more than enough speed at the back to cover and potential flare ups on the Tiquiri side from a kick chase.
Those that are looking to be critical of Tim Sheens for his selection of Lote might have missed the fact that Manly themselves aren’t looking too flash on the flanks. Failed purchase Tony Williams has been moved to the centres, his link to Michael Robertson could be seriously questioned on that edge.
On the other flank, the woefully out of form David Williams who had a horror 2009 is paired with Steve Matai who generally spends more time on the ground with injuries during a game than almost any other NRL player. Matai has become famous for his clutching after every second tackle, it could be a leg, an arm or sometimes his neck.
Given the form of the Wests Tigers at the backend of last season, combined with some seemingly high profile recruits in Tiquiri and Cayless – they look well positioned and certainly not vulnerable with the former Wallaby on the flanks.
The Wests Tigers should win this match by 8 points.