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Benji not given the boot by Wests Tigers

By David Beniuk 03/08/2010 04:39:13 PM Comments (0)

Wests Tigers coach Tim Sheens says out-of-form Benji Marshall is still the NRL side's "first priority" goalkicker.

Marshall, who has booted just four from 14 in the past three weeks, sacked himself as kicker during Saturday night's 24-22 win over Cronulla.

The five-eighth had booted just one from three at Leichhardt Oval before handing the duties to centre Chris Lawrence.

"We're practising with options but Benji's still our first priority," Sheens told reporters on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Tigers' coach Tim Sheens says his team won't bench their signature razzle dazzle permanently, despite weeks of winning ugly since an even uglier loss to South Sydney.

The Tigers have won eight from 10 since their season's low point, a 50-10 shellacking at the hands of the Rabbitohs at the SCG in round 10.

But they've put away much of the flamboyance, Benji Marshall flick-passes included, which had become their hallmark.

In the process they've improved their defence - from leaking an average of 25 points a game up to and including the Souths disaster, to just 17 since.

"We had some issues but we'd lost the three games previous (to round 10) and that was probably the bottom of the barrel for us this season," Sheens told reporters on Tuesday.

"It did make us have a good look at ourselves and we copped some criticism and rightly so.

"From there we've improved our football somewhat even though we can play a little better, but I'm happy with the way we're steadily getting there."

"Steadily" has been the key word and it epitomised a lacklustre 24-22 win over Cronulla on Saturday night.

"We have put (the flamboyance) a little bit away but we're not going to change our style," Sheens said.

"Wests Tigers are Wests Tigers and we play to our strengths.

"In that period of time there was a lot of wet weather footy, we had a lot of key players out.

"I think benching the so-called flamboyant footy's come from the fact we didn't always have our full personnel."

Captain Robbie Farah said the Tigers were working on picking their moments for the big plays.

"They're there, we've just got to find the balance," Farah said.

"At the moment we're plugging away at it.

"We were pretty disappointed after the weekend, it was a pretty empty feeling in the sheds even though we won, but having a look at the video I don't think we went too bad."

Farah admitted goalkicking was a concern.

"It makes a huge difference turning those fours into sixes," he said.

"You don't want it to cost you a game in the semis.

"Benji's been working real hard on his kicking and at training he kicks them from all over the place."

Meanwhile, Lawrence's centre partner Blake Ayshford could play in Saturday's clash with South Sydney, despite a fractured hand.

"The X-ray didn't show a lot so it's now a CT scan," Sheens said.

"I think it's a fine break.

"He's still got some pain but the chances are he'll play.

"He played the second half with it so chances are he'll play but we'll just have to wait and see what the CT scan says."

The Tigers will look to atone for a 50-10 round 10 humiliation by the Rabbitohs at the SCG when the sides do battle at ANZ Stadium.

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