Tigers sure they can still win title - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Tigers sure they can still win title

By Ben Horne 14/09/2010 06:45:30 PM Comments (0)

Even in the face of extreme heartbreak and a horrific injury toll, the Wests Tigers have never been surer they can win the NRL grand final.

From the outside, it would appear the odds are heavily stacked against the Tigers as they reluctantly head to Canberra to play the red-hot Raiders this weekend.

They were left an emotional and angry wreck after last Saturday's devastating 100-minute loss to the Roosters and are filthy about being sent to a sold out Canberra Stadium on Friday night despite finishing third on the ladder.

Then there's the more immediate concern over the injuries which have ravaged preparation, including star five-eighth Benji Marshall battling to recover from a knee problem.

But through the negativity threatening to overcome the Tigers with their season on the line, assistant coach Royce Simmons declared he's never been more certain that his side can go all the way.

"I've never been so sure of anything. We can win the grand final," Simmons defiantly announced to the media on Tuesday.

"We've been getting ready all year for games like this, for semi-finals.

"We were fantastic for the first 60 minutes last week, probably the only thing we did a little bit wrong last week was when we got that 13-point buffer.

"Instead of putting the knife in, I think we probably started to get ready for this week's game or having a rest. We got ahead of ourselves.

"You're saying Canberra is on a roll, I think we're on a bit of a roll ourselves. Now we've hit a bit of a stumbling block with injuries, but that's what you've got to be about.

"We finished third in the competition for a start, we're around the mark and I think over the last six weeks we've been building and building."

At Tigers training on Tuesday, there were as many players off the paddock as on it, and staff won't know until game-day who will actually take the field.

Centre Blake Ayshford has been cleared of having glandular fever, but a virus has him in doubt.

Chris Lawrence has been named on the bench, but the Tigers won't know until later in the week whether he can make a premature comeback from a fractured jaw.

Fullback Wade McKinnon and centre Geoff Daniela are no chance, and there will be no 11th hour return for Tim Moltzen.

Marshall is the number one concern. He's keen, but Simmons doesn't subscribe to the theory that Benji on one leg is better than not having him there at all.

Second rower Liam Fulton is on standby to slip into five-eighth if required.

"I don't think any player ... if he's not somewhere near his best is worth the go around. A player on one leg I don't think can do you the job," Simmons said.

"Benji wants to play, we hope he'll play but we can't make that decision ... a bit of common sense has to come into it.

"We'll leave that right up to an hour before kick-off.

"(Halfback) Robert Lui's ready (to take on extra pressure), and Liam's not actually a billy goat by the way, he's played in a grand final. There's a No.9 (captain Robbie Farah) who's not a bad footballer either ... so we're not going to panic that much about that.

"We've won games without Benji."

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