Though the Wests Tigers won’t have skipper Robbie Farah available for Sunday’s match against Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium prop Aaron Woods said the old excuse that his club’s roster was too young and inexperienced does not cut it any more.
At 24 Woods is one of his club’s leaders and, while he acknowledged the last-placed Tigers would miss Farah against the competition leaders because of hand and shoulder injuries, he said each player needed to be the difference against the Broncos.
“It’s hard when you lose someone like Robbie, he’s played 200-plus games for the club and he’s been captain here since he was 23 or 24 and that says a lot about his character,” said Woods.
“We have a lot of young blokes here, Luke Brooks is into his second season of first grade and has played nearly 50 games; we have Martin Taupau and Sauaso Sue is up to 50 [first grade games].
“So we’re not little kids any more. We’re all grown up, we know what we have to do and we have to take our roles seriously.”
Woods added the Jason Taylor-coached outfit had paid a heavy price in some matches this season for failing to finish off their opponents when they had them on the ropes.
“We can do it [against Brisbane],” he said. “There’s been so many games we should’ve won, we were up 22-0 against Canberra, 24-6 against the Dogs, and until the last 10 minutes against the Titans.
“We’re putting ourselves in good situations but we don’t exactly know how to put teams away.There is a positive and a negative to everything.There is a lot of games we should’ve and could’ve won but we didn’t and we’ve had to learn from it.”
Woods, who is the assistant coach of the Leichhardt Juniors under-16s side, said his last hit-out at Suncorp, which ended in a 52-6 defeat as part of the NSW Origin team, had given his players something to learn from.
“The boys have been really good, there’s been a few little jabs but that’s just a result of them being young blokes,” he said. “I told them not everyone is going to win by 40 or 10 or even one point, you’re always going to lose a game.
“But, as I said, I was in a team beaten by the best professional side in history and you have to learn from that after a loss like that, that’s what is going to test your character.
“I learned the harder we tried the worse we went. It was one of those nightmares where you couldn’t wait for the whistle to blow after the end of 80 minutes. They just took their opportunities when they came.”
Club stalwart Dene Halatau, who played in the club’s 2005 grand final win, will play his 150th match for the merged club on Sunday. He said the Tigers were desperate to improve their place on the ladder and credited Taylor for being concise in explaining what he expects.
“We have to focus on what the coaching staff is giving us and trust that what we’re doing is the right way to go about things and we’re doing that. The boys are turning up every week and training hard and doing what’s asked of them,” Halatau said.
“We have a lot of young guys and their enthusiasm to be playing first grade football is great . . . it’s driving the energy of the squad.”
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