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Sheens: They'll be worried - Australian Rugby league News
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globalrugbyleague - Tue, 13 Mar 2007 23:26:00 GMT

The Wests Tigers might be not be favoured heading into this Friday’s NRL season opener against the Melbourne Storm, but don’t tell their coach, Tim Sheens.

The veteran mentor doesn’t lack trust that his side, nearly 4/1 underdogs entering the match, can do the job.

Speaking to Global Rugby League at training Tuesday, Sheens, when reminded that Melbourne has a glut of good players, responded “Yeah, they have, but so have we.”

“The number of game-breakers I have is underestimated…but I don’t think (Storm coach) Craig Bellamy will be underestimating us. I know they’ll be worried about us, and the style of game we play.”

“I’m confident in our ability to beat Melbourne in Melbourne.”

A big statement, even for the coach of a team featuring Brett Hodgson and Benji Marshall, considering the horrific 46-4 flogging the Tigers took at Olympic Park last year. But it’s not one the pragmatic Sheens makes lightly.

“It is time to deliver” he said.

Both the Tigers and Melbourne have come under scrutiny regarding play-the-ball speed.

Many credit much of the Tigers’ 2005 premiership to their quick play-the-balls, whilst the Storm have become notorious under Craig Bellamy for doing almost anything to slow down the opposition’s play-the-ball, setting up a culture clash on Friday night.

“I’ve had assurance from (referees’ coach) Robert Finch that the key indicators will be adhered to strongly, so...you…earn the right to dominate the tackle. If you don’t, you won’t” Sheens said.

“It’s up to us to run…and work, in a way that we don’t get dominated by the Melbourne defence, and therefore we should have the right to get up and play the ball quickly.”

One area critics point to on this team is halfback, where John Morris takes over for the departed Scott Prince.

This is seen by many as a step down, but Sheens dismisses that proposition, using Friday’s opponents as an example.

“Last year, Melbourne lost Matty Orford and went to Cooper Cronk, and everyone said the same thing. By the end of the year, they were all raving about Cooper Cronk.”

“We’re talking about a guy here (Morris) who’s played five-eighth for Parramatta in a successful side…when you play pivot these days, you play first and second receiver regularly in a game. It’s not the issue that most people are (making it out to be).”

The coach confirmed that star pivot Benji Marshall will again do some defending wider this season, saying that Marshall needs protection from teams running at him, trying to tire him out.

Sheens also played down criticism of his forward pack, seen by many as too small.

“Our average weight in the forwards is 100 kilos, so I don’t think we’re particularly small” he remarked.
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