Positional play: Teflon Tim continues to confuse with his team selections. I’ll let the Sheenanigans pass this week, but here’s something to consider; of the 17 players picked this weekend, only six have been named in the same position throughout season 2012…
Son of Siro: Curtis Sironen will take on the Cowboys on Sunday afternoon in one of the most eagerly anticipated Wests Tigers debuts since Jake Mullaney was (never) named in first grade. The 18-year-old is a manchild with plenty of promise, so it stands to reason that Teflon Tim will leave him on the bench until the 65-minute mark or until such time that the game is completely out of reach. For the love of Fitzhenry, please don’t stuff this up.
Mini Bar menu: Say what you will about Mini Bar Matt Utai, the much-maligned utility has a huge heart. Utai is aggressive in attack and defence, a constant talker and a great leader. He isn’t the fastest or flashiest in the Tigers team, but he might be the most dedicated and determined. Not bad for a 31-year-old who was going around in park football in 2010. When Matt Utai plays like he’s four-foot tall and bullet proof it’s because he is.
Adam bomb: Adam Blair continues to find his feet after a terribly slow start to the season. Blair has become a genuine 80-minute player for the first time in his career and is adjusting to a new role under Teflon Tim. The big bloke has already scored two tries in 10 games for the Tigers after crossing the stripe just five times in 121 games for the Storm. While he’s hardly set the world on fire, his performance against the Warriors was very impressive.
New recruits: Forwards Bodene Thompson and Eddy Pettybourne will be great additions to a Wests Tigers team that will lose three-time Player of the Year Gareth Ellis at the end of the season. It looks like the Tigers have already adjusted to life without Ellis as the big Brit continues to recover from a nagging footy injury. Thompson and Pettybourne have size, strength and eyes for an offload. They are also young, 23 and 24 respectively, and much to Teflon Tim’s delight – versatile.
While I’m at it: The six players who have been named in the same position for the Tigers are Lote Tuqiri, Adam Blair, Chris Heighington and front row trio Aaron Woods, Robbie Farah and Keith Galloway. The rest of the top squad have tried more positions than a troupe of Russian gymnasts.
Shooting for five straight wins, you’d think there’d be some consistency in team selection. Nah, not in Tigertown. But that’s ok. After years of heart attack football on the field, Sheens now seems to provide fans with some extra stress and opportunities to vent on Tuesdays – perhaps to desensitise us from the odd “what the …” moments witnessed on fifth tackle? To be fair, the injury to Cashmere did force Sheens’ hand in Bell moving from lock to reserve prop. It will be interesting to see how Sheens juggles the back row when Cashy and Gaz are fit.
After being sceptical, I was really impressed with Benji at 7 last week. He controlled the game well, kicked well and looked confident. Unfortunately my concerns about Lawrence were justified. The bloke just isn’t a 5/8 and I was relieved to see him named to return to his natural position in the centres this week (provided he fully recovers from his hammy strain). I’m looking past the selection of Ayshford in the 6 and just hoping that young Sironen gets a decent run at 5/8 from the bench this weekend. If he can make the most of this opportunity and impress the Sheens – in a way that Miller, Brown et al have not – we could witness the dawn of a very exciting era in our halves on Sunday.
The Cowboys have four players backing up from Origin, including both of their starting props. It’s always difficult to predict how coaches and players handle the backup, but given this is a Sunday game I don’t expect it to be a big factor. The Tigers pack were admirably able to contain the much bigger Warriors forwards and ran them tired in the second half. I don’t think the Cowboys will drop off that easily – after all, they have scored the last try in each of their past four games. Playing for the full 80 is not something we’re good at and the Cowboys are exactly the kind of team that could make us pay if we give them a chance. Thurston and Bowen can create opportunities to score from anywhere on the field. Then again, Benji at his best can do likewise.
The Tigers have won seven of the past eight games against North Queensland. This week at Campbelltown on a (hopefully) sunny Sunday afternoon, I expect our forwards to stand up again, for our momentum to continue building and make it eight from nine against the northerners.
FTS: The Cows have conceded first try in three of their last four games. The Tigers have conceded first try in their last 2 games. Hmmm, what to do? Well, I guess when in doubt back Beau Ryan to score first. He’s been named in the centres but I don’t think that will impact his scoring chances. He knows how to get across the white line regardless.
Margin: We doubled our winning margin last week from our preceding win, so I’m hoping this is the beginning of a geometric progression, so Tigers by 4 this week (20-16).
BWTF Players of the Week:
Players who collected the most votes in each category for Round 11 were:
Best Back/Utility: Tie between Ryan and Marshall (34%) [12/35]
Best Forward: Woods (77% of votes) [24/31]
Here’s an update of the BWTF player polls so far:
Ryan (6.5 awards)
Marshall (2.5 awards)
Humble (1 award)
Woods (6 awards)
Fulton (2 awards)
Ellis (1 award)
Farah (1 award)
Links for the Round 12 polls will be posted on Facebook after 6pm on Sunday.
So here we are – State of Origin 1 is done and dusted and despite NSW not getting the biscuits, we can at least be proud in Robbie Farah’s effort. One of the best blues on the field last night, if not the best.
You all may remember at the start of the year that I picked five Wests Tigers players that you may want to include in your Dream Team. I thought now that the boys have enjoyed some wins, I would review said player’s progress and review whether or not I made good judgement calls with a ‘Coach Rating’.
Benji Marshall: Current Price – $305,300. Benji’s performance lately DT wise has been acceptable. He had a rough start to the season the field, and it showed in his DT scores. Surprisingly, our wins have not lead to massive increases to his average of 49.60 – not exactly terrible, but I would’ve thought we would’ve seen a few more ‘big’ scores from him given the recent form for the Tigers. I rated him 3/5 at the start of the season, and that’s where he stays for now. Coach Rating: 4/5 Shifty’s.
Chris Heighington: Current Price – $210,300. Cov didn’t have a great start to the year, and his DT scores were average at best. Due to his measly 4 from his injury, he has a massive BE of 78 for his first game back this week. If he comes back and finds form, he could well prove to be a bargain at somewhere around $160k – $170k, which is where I guess he will bottom out. I rated him 3/5 at the start of the season, and he goes to 2/5 now. Disappointing scores have me weary but still some potential to come back firing at a bargain price. Coach Rating: 3/5 Shifty’s. A knock on by Sladie.
Aaron Woods: Current Price – $277,000. What a year Woods is having. He’s been outstanding for the Tigers in a time when we’ve copped a lot of injury, and unlike Groat, is avoiding Second Year Syndrome. Solid metres and good involvement has seen him get solid scores and a very decent price rise. I stated that I thought he was a bargain – I didn’t know he’d be a season long prospect. Amazing. Coach Rating: 4/5 Shifty’s.
Blake Ayshford: Current Price – $151,500. I copped a bit of flack at the start of the season for stating that Ayshford could find himself on the sidelines with a form slump. While he hasn’t been out of the team, he hasn’t exactly been a solid performer and is often leading the missed tackle count. He has one good score of 51, but otherwise his DT scores this year have been very average. I didn’t rate him as a solid choice then, and I don’t now. Coach Rating: 4/5 Shifty’s.
Tim Moltzen: Current Price – $155,100. Arguably my biggest stuff up as far as recommendations goes. Moltz failed to lock down the Number 7, and has been inconsistent by definition all season. Showed some promise last week, but boosted by a try. Probably a 2/5 now. Coach Rating: 1/5 Shifty’s. Fumbled over the line.
So there you are. An average coach rating of 3.2/5 for Sladie on my Tiger’s selections. I may not be Aaron Woods, but at least I’m not Timmy Moltzen.
Here’s the injury toll from Round 11.
L MacDougall (Bulldogs) – 7 Weeks.
B Goodwin (Bulldogs) – Indefinite.
T Sims (Cowboys) – Season.
S Kenny-Dowall (Roosters) – 4 Weeks.
With the bye round last week there’s no update regarding the leagues this week. I hope you all were successful in your first Eliminator outing. All the best for your H2H match up this week!
After a well deserved weekend off, Sladie is back with a vengeance for this week’s Starting 17. With many BWT Fans left scratching their heads as to what on earth Shifty is doing with his halfback choices these days, I am pleased to provide a BWTF exclusive: Sladie will be making his transition to the Number 6 for the Tigers this weekend.
Well, I may as well be.
So Round 11 is suddenly upon us and with it comes a very exciting element of Dream Team that I’ve always loved – the Elminator Competition.
If you don’t remember how Elminator works, I’ll give you the quick run down. The first 65,536 teams to register for Dream Team go into a knock out competition in a Head to Head format, whereby you face a new opponent every week. Unlike H2H leagues, Eliminator does not allow for the bye rounds – it’s ruthless, and there is no respite. You play every week, whether your team is ready or not. This could well be the case this round as a result of the Broncos, Raiders, Storm, Knights, Titans and Eels all taking a break.
How do you best prepare yourself for the Eliminator? This is a pretty simple question. As it’s a H2H format, it’s not much different than your regular league games. However given that there is no bye rounds for the Eliminator, it does force you to have a good spread of players across a number of teams to give yourself the best chance of progressing each week – especially in the ‘Bye’ Rounds – 11,14 and 17.
If you’re considering trades over the next few weeks, keep this in mind. I will say that Eliminator sure makes Gallen and Carney look fairly unattractive, with them both being out of 5 of the next 7 games. Overall they’re great for your team, but they won’t be helping you out for the next little while in any great extent.
Something I will state for you all to read: Ranking does not mean you do not have a chance. A number of high ranked teams will be undone this weekend, of that I have no doubt. Do your best to play as many players as possible to give you every chance of progressing should you wish to complete.
Elminator is not the be all end all, but it sure is fun. So buckle up and enjoy the ride!
Here’s the injury toll from Round 10.
M Weyman (Dragqueens) – Season.
N Fien (Dragqueens) – 3 weeks.
J Papali (Raiders) – 2 weeks.
J Ropati (Warriors) – Season.
Unfortunately a technical glitch has meant that I can’t report the winners from Barnes conference from last week. Apologies folks! The winners from Summons were as follows:
Summons: OneEyedTigers, Sladie’s Tigers, Yo Mamas, BucketsofBlood, ktsraptors, Mongrel Magpies, Crank’s Charge, Tits Magee
Enjoy the bye round!
After three successive wins on the road, the Wests Tigers return home to host the Warriors at Leichhardt Oval tonight. No doubt about it, this is going a big test for our boys. The NZers are bringing some good form into this game after belting the Broncos and then holding out the Roosters last week. In both games their big forward pack set the tone and created plenty of space for their back line to operate – racking up 30 points in each game. That stat alone will mean plenty of emphasis must be on our defence tonight. But on the other side of the coin, the Warriors have the second worst defensive record in the league, conceding at least 20 points in all but one game so far this season. A good old fashioned shoot-out could be on the cards.
Plenty has already been written and discussed about Sheens’ unorthodox selections this week, none better than our own TigerBrad in his Six To Go blog. Suffice to say, I’m worried about the structure of our halves but just really hoping for the best. At the very least, Sheens has options to shuffle Humble and Lawrence around when Politoni subs in – provided of course young Pat does make the field, which as Meaney and Humble can attest is not a foregone conclusion.
With Farah on a well-earned Origin call-up and an unconventional halves partner by his side, our attacking chances will rest squarely on the shoulders – and off the boot – of Benji Marshall. I can’t wait to see him regain his form of yester-year and take on the line with his trademark step and shimmy, but I see his kicking game as being absolutely crucial this game. Long kicks that keep the big Warrior forwards on the move and high attacking kicks that isolate the new fullback Fisiiahi and winger Vatuvei will be required.
The fact that the game is being played at Leichhardt gives me confidence. The Tigers will need to produce a massive defensive performance to contain the Warriors pack and limit the attacking options afforded to Maloney, Johnson and Hurrell. With the exception of last year’s heart breaking finals loss, the Tigers had won three straight against New Zealand since 2010. With the benefit of two free points from our bye, this is a playoff between 8th and 9th with a consolidated place in the Top 8 awaiting the winner. The loser could slip back to 13th if other results go against them. I’ll be the one biting my nails to the bone and watching through gaps in my fingers.
FTS: It’s been 142 minutes since Beau Ryan last scored a try. That’s too long. I’m backing him to score first – and bag a double on the night.
Margin: Statistically, a 1 point win would be a safe bet. I’ll look for a bit of value. Tigers by 2 (24-22).
BWTF Players of the Week:
Players who collected the most votes in each category for Round 9 were:
Best Back/Utility: Ryan (37% of votes) [9/24]
Best Forward: Farah (65% of votes) [17/26]
No suprises to see our captain win the Best Forward award for his game changing effort against the Titans. Similarly, no surprises to see our favourite back get the chocolates yet again.
Here’s an update of the BWTF player polls so far:
Ryan (6 awards)
Marshall (2 awards)
Humble (1 award)
Woods (5 awards)
Fulton (2 awards)
Ellis (1 award)
Farah (1 award)
Links for the Round 11 polls will be posted on Facebook after the game.
Another week, another Tim Sheens experiment. Teflon Tim continues to play mad scientist with a Wests Tigers team he has coached since 2003. Think about that for a moment – Sheens isn’t a first-year coach getting to know his players – he has been in charge of this lot for more than 170 games. With that in mind, let’s run the ruler over some of this week’s selections…
Tim Moltzen: The most enigmatic fullback in the NRL, and by enigmatic I mean unreliable. Named by Tim Sheens as a possible NSW halfback in February this year. Seriously. According to that ‘logic’, Moltzen is clearly playing out of position.
Lote Tuqiri: A former Group 1 winner who should be put to pasture. Great for marketing and all the rest, but personality doesn’t win premierships. It’s sad to see big Lote on such a slippery slope.
Chris Lawrence: An Australian centre playing five-eighth. Rowdy is a pure hole runner – not a kicker, not a passer and certainly not an organiser. Teflon Tim is on the verge of killing a career.
Benji Marshall: The most unpredictable player in the world has become a facilitator. The 2012 model Benji Marshall is nothing more than a link man who passes, kicks and sells stories to women’s magazines. His running game is absolutely non-existent. Another career at the crossroads.
Tom Humble: The Tigers scored a season-high 61 points in two weeks with Humble in the halves, so of course the logical thing to do was bench him against the Titans and name him at hooker against the Warriors.
Liam Fulton: A tackling machine who was forced to play hooker when Robbie Farah was suspended. Nevermind the fact the Tigers had a specialist hooker waiting in the wings.
Matt Bell: A revelation since joining the starting squad. Had to rely on a Chris Heighington injury to get his chance because Teflon Tim doesn’t believe in dropping out of form players.
Pat Politoni: A rookie hooker with plenty of promise. Let’s hope he gets his chance and doesn’t suffer the same fate as Jacob Miller.
While I’m at it: Wests are winning in spite of their coach, not because of him. This is an inherent problem at the Tigers. Teflon Tim has made a mockery of the Jacob Miller signing and boom wingers Marika Koroibete and David Nofoaluma can’t get a look in despite their blistering form. Sheens has run his race and run out of ideas. Problem is, he’s under contract until the end of 2014.