‘Unimaginable’: How Benji Marshall has sparked Wests Tigers revolution

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Wests Tigers followers can count on to see shades of 2005 this season.

Not solely is Tim Sheens again on the helm, however with the assistance of the legendary Benji Marshall, he’s within the course of of remodeling the Tigers’ assault to considerably emulate that premiership-winning season.

Lots has occurred because the pair lifted the trophy 17 years in the past.

Sheens relocated to the UK whereas the membership churned by way of 4 coaches — six should you rely the interim coaches — and Marshall left, then returned, then left once more earlier than retiring.

There’s additionally solely been two finals appearances and the membership collected its first wood spoon.

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However the band is again collectively — Robbie Farah too — and so they’re already making their mark.

There’s been massive personnel adjustments and now, as five-eighth Adam Doueihi informed foxsports.com.au the staff is about to play “a special model of footy” too.

Doueihi referred to the ‘05 staff’s “assault mentality” and revealed each participant has been “doing 200 passes each day” throughout pre-season to make sure they’re prepared for Sheens’ sport plan.

However this isn’t only a copy and paste job in a determined bid to ship the membership’s first premiership in virtually 20 years. Sheens and Marshall are assured that the roster they’re constructing has the ability to execute the brand new fashion to their liking.


Final season the Tigers averaged simply 15 factors a sport and conceded on common 28 factors a sport.

The ‘05 premiership-winning facet averaged 29 factors a sport however conceded 22 — basically just one attempt lower than the staff that bought the wood spoon.

Certain, they’re two solely completely different groups that performed in numerous eras of the NRL nevertheless it’s clear assault was the bread and butter in ‘05, whereas it barely had a pulse in 2022. Defence was the realm the Tigers have been stronger in final season.

It appears the Tigers’ assault can be resuscitated this season although with Doueihi declaring: “We’re not going to be scared to throw the ball round.

“However we’ve to earn the proper to place our performs on,” he added.

Doueihi additionally gave an perception into simply how a lot work the taking part in group is doing in assault and why Sheens and Marshall are assured the brand new fashion will swimsuit the staff.

“Clearly with Tim, Benji and Robbie from the ‘05 staff, they performed a special model of footy that 12 months and scored extra factors than the opposition. They’d an assault mentality and defence would go on the again of that so we’re kind of doing the identical this 12 months,” he mentioned.

“With our roster, Tim and Benji see it has gamers that may transfer the ball and prefer to throw the footy round.

“They’ve even bought all our massive boys and each participant doing 200 passes each day we’re right here and getting everybody as much as scratch with the straightforward catch-pass drills and ensuring everybody within the 17 may be assured to catch and cross the ball beneath strain.

“There’s clearly completely different performs and shapes that us gamers haven’t seen earlier than however the extra we apply them the extra we will see the way it is smart and the way we will use it come sport day.”

Halfback Luke Brooks has been on the Tigers his total profession however was within the decrease grades final time Sheens was on the helm so didn’t get to expertise the veteran coach’s sport plan.

However he can nonetheless recognise the similarities to what’s been constructing at Harmony over the summer time.

“You simply have to return and watch how the Tigers used to play beneath ‘Sheensy’, he’s all the time been identified for his attacking fashion of play,” Brooks informed foxsports.com.au.

“He hasn’t modified an excessive amount of with that and I believe that may swimsuit the gamers in our facet.

“We don’t wish to be a type of groups that does 5 hit-ups by way of to a kick, we really wish to transfer the ball and play to our strengths.”

Doueihi is “excited to indicate the followers” the Tigers’ new fashion and that could be as a result of it “positively” fits the way in which he likes to play.

“Me and Benji spoke totally within the low season about what sits me and my sport,” he mentioned.

“I’ve come from a tricky footy background as nicely and have utilized some contact footy performs that may relate to rugby league. Whether or not it’s a 4 vs three state of affairs or three vs two, simply how he desires me to run it, we’ve discovered performs that swimsuit me, ‘Brooksy’ and ‘Dainey’ (Daine Laurie) the place it will get us working and utilizing our passing sport.”

Laurie is simply as eager on the brand new fashion.

“It’s form of off-the-cuff footy and taking alternatives after they’re introduced. It’s 100 per cent my fashion, simply taking part in flat and quick to try to get the opposition on the again foot,” he mentioned.

In the meantime, marquee recruit Api Koroisau informed foxsports.com.au: “I believe everybody is aware of how ‘Sheensy’ likes to teach so I believe it’s a type of eyes-up footy kind of kinds which is actually good as a result of it fits my sport.”


Marshall will spend the following two seasons as Sheens’ assistant earlier than taking on as head coach in 2025.

The membership legend has completely immersed himself within the position. In truth when it was introduced final July, he resigned from his high-profile media commitments — together with being an professional analyst on Fox League — to get a head begin on the work that must be executed on the Tigers.

So it shouldn’t come as a shock that he’s been very hands-on all through pre-season.

However apart from his teaching duties, simply Marshall’s presence alone is having an incredible impression on the gamers.

“It’s fairly cool,” Doueihi mentioned about Marshall’s involvement.

“Even when me or ‘Brooksy’ can’t do a drill he jumps in and the way in which he can nonetheless cross the ball and the imaginative and prescient he has that different gamers can’t see is kind of unbelievable — he’s nonetheless getting attempt assists and tries at coaching so he’s positively nonetheless bought it.

“To work with him each day, personally I try to decide his mind and he’s all the time so optimistic about me and my sport.

“He’s somebody I can lean on throughout the season, he’s executed all the pieces within the sport so I’m kind of simply absorbing all of it in.

“He’s (one of many boys) a bit however there’s clearly that distinction with him being on the teaching workers now.

“Enjoying with him and having spoken to those that have performed with him, everybody has plenty of respect for him. All the things he’s executed on and off the sector, he’s stored a superb title.

“He’s one of many boys however his teaching hat continues to be on and if he has to drag us up on one thing he positively does, however he is aware of easy methods to have a enjoyable time.

“With regards to the sector work he’s very optimistic and really sensible with the way in which he talks and sees the sport — everyone seems to be all ears when he speaks.”

Marshall and Sheens shared a father-son relationship again after they labored collectively as participant and coach on the Tigers.

It’s very completely different this time spherical however they appear to be a match made in heaven to this point with Alex Twal telling foxsports.com.au his seventh pre-season with the membership has been “refreshing” due to them.

“There’s so much to sit up for. I simply love their method, they each have such completely different approaches to what I’ve been used to and I believe it’s actually refreshing,” Twal mentioned.

“You come to coaching with a little bit of a spring in your step as a result of they each have knack for making coaching satisfying.

“Having been right here for some time, to be are available in right here and be so excited to coach is such a superb feeling — it’s so refreshing. Particularly off the again of final 12 months, they’ve executed such an incredible job this pre-season and everyone seems to be shopping for in.

“There’s plenty of younger faces and with that comes power.”

Twal additionally defined that the duo “have an actual assault focus” however careworn “that doesn’t imply we don’t delight ourselves in defence.”

He added: “There’s been plenty of backing your self and ensuring we work collectively.”


There’s a number of new faces on the Tigers that may assist convey Sheens’ plans to life together with three-time premiership-winning hooker Koroisau.

Brooks is especially enthusiastic about Koroisau’s addition to the 17 given his craftiness out of dummy-half will ease the load on him at halfback.

“You possibly can already inform he’s made a large distinction to our facet,” Brooks mentioned.

“What he does across the ruck helps me a lot, it’ll take plenty of strain off me as a result of different groups’ defence can be centered on him and what he’s doing across the ruck.”

Koroisau is evident on his position at No.9 however performed it down when requested about what he can do for Brooks and Doueihi.

“I believe wherever I’ve performed I’ve tried to assist out (the halves)… Nevertheless it’s not as massive as what individuals suppose it’s. It’s extra simply delicate issues and making an attempt to learn the sport myself so I may also help out,” he mentioned.

One other participant that’s anticipated to make an enormous distinction to the Tigers this season is Isaiah Papali’i, who Laurie declared a “wrecking ball” that “provides a little bit of flare to the sting.”

He’ll play exterior of Brooks.

“I’m actually trying ahead to taking part in with ‘Ice’, I believe he’s somebody that may swimsuit my sport,” Brooks mentioned.

“He’s a superb hole-running back-rower, but in addition in defence he’s additionally a superb high quality participant and you’ll actually see that after we’re out on the sector coaching.”

Add in English worldwide John Bateman and 19-time Kangaroo David Klemmer — who’s setting a excessive normal at coaching — and the Tigers have starpower they’ve been desperately lacking.

Koroisau is contemporary off back-to-back premierships with the Panthers and Papali’i bought precious grand remaining expertise with the Eels final season.

Twal believes having these sorts of gamers round will do wonders for the membership.

“To have them blokes on board this 12 months, it provides the boys plenty of confidence going ahead,” he mentioned.

“Not solely that, simply having their expertise at coaching, they know what success appears like and so they’ve been within the sport for some time. It’s been actually good to have extra skilled heads to lean on.”

Initially revealed as Wests Tigers set for revival with Benji Marshall main the cost

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