Tigers NRL pack hits back at critics - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Tigers NRL pack hits back at critics

By Steve Jancetic 29/09/2005 06:54:10 PM Comments (0)

Written off for being too small in name and stature, the much-maligned Wests Tigers forward pack is 80 minutes away from throwing egg in the face of all its critics, including coach Tim Sheens.

The Tigers forwards have made a mockery of predictions they would crumble in the heat of finals football, rumbling through the star-studded packs of St George Illawarra and Brisbane to book a berth in Sunday's NRL grand final against North Queensland at Telstra Stadium.

"They wrote us off, that we're small and things like that. It's probably not that good for your confidence, but as the year went on we were confident in each other," young Tigers prop Anthony Laffranchi said.

"It just fuels the fire. We've got self belief in the club and the forward pack and I think it shows."

Even Sheens thought the Tigers pack was too small, which is why the club embarked on a mid-season spending spree which netted hulking Sharks youngster Keith Galloway and former Canberra and NSW Origin prop Ryan O'Hara for the 2006 season.

"We knew coming into season 2005 our forward pack lacked size and we have made a concerted effort to rectify that for 2006," Sheens said after the club announced the signing of Galloway in early July.

But the front-row rotation of Laffranchi, veteran John Skandalis, Todd Payten and Bryce Gibbs have shown size isn't everything. In the last two weeks they have overcome Test props Shane Webcke and Petero Civoniceva from the Broncos and Jason Ryles and Luke Bailey from the Dragons.

"We're real happy with the way we've gone," said Laffranchi, who will join the Gold Coast in 2007.

"I set myself personal goals when I play against other quality front rowers and I'm achieving some of them.

"It's a bit surreal (playing against Test-class opponents).

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