How Maguire has retuned the Tigers for 2021
It's been a busy off-season for Wests Tigers as they look to get back to the NRL finals for the first time since 2011.
Coach Michael Maguire has brought in the likes of James Roberts, James Tamou and Joe Ofahengaue and has also made a number of key positional switches that he hopes will bring the best out of misfiring players.
Kayo is your ticket to the best sport streaming Live & On-Demand. New to Kayo? Get your 14-day free trial & start streaming instantly >
James Roberts is an exciting signing. What will he bring and how will you get the best from him?
James has been a real professional since arriving at the club. He understands what he needs to do to get himself ready for the season and that is get his body right. That has been his focus at the moment. The other thing that he is really strong at is helping the guys around him. His experience is helping others and that is something he has brought to the club.
You have a number of new recruits. You have spoken about James Tamou in the past and mentioned he could become your captain. Who else has impressed you?
I'd like to mention Joe Ofahengaue. He has been a real presence here since arriving. I have been really impressed with him. He has played at every level of the game and has brought a lot of experience to the group. The boys themselves have fed off his hunger and he has showed them how to bring that hunger every day.
There has been a lot of talk about Adam Doueihi making a full-time switch to the halves. Is that going to happen following the departure of Josh Reynolds?
I think that was always going to be a part of Adam's pre-season. I spoke to Adam some time ago about the No.6 position and ultimately it will come down to performance. He has been very strong over the pre-season and trained at No.6 so that is where I am expecting him to start the season. I am looking forward to seeing him play.
Does that mean Moses Mbye will move back to No.1?
Is it a make or break year for Moses and is fullback his best position?
The thing about Moses is that he is in really good condition. He has had a real hunger about getting his body right and he has trained really well. I think he is really looking forward to getting around in that No.1 position.
Who will partner Adam in the halves?
I think Adam and Luke Brooks. We also have young Jock Madden that is coming through and we also have the ability to put Moses (Mbye) in and around those positions.
Hooker is another position that could be up for grabs following the departure of Harry Grant. Who is in contention?
We have Jacob Liddle and Jake Simpkin. Both those boys are in the mix and it will come down to the performance they put in both on the training paddock and on the field when they get their chance. Liddle has already shown what he can do at the first grade level and he has had a full pre-season for the first time. I am looking forward to seeing how he uses that (his injury-free pre-season) when we move into the games. Simpkin hasn't been able to play a whole heap of games because of the COVID restrictions, but he has a lot of potential. I think he will be able to handle the first grade role when the time is right.
Who else can we expect a breakout season from?
We have a number of exciting prospects including Shawn Blore, Tommy Talau, and Tuikimihia Simkins. We also gave a number of guys first-grade experience last year and I am expecting they will be better for it. There are a number of players that I am looking forward to seeing and a number that will push for first grade positions. I am also expecting Zane Musgrove to have a big year. He has got his body in the best condition I have seen. I am looking forward to seeing his hard work pay-off.
Will the Leilua brothers team up on the same edge?
There is a chance. We have swapped them around at training so we will see.
What has been your focus over the pre-season?
We have been working really hard at all facets of the game. We have to be strong in every facet of our game to be a successful team in the NRL. We have also been focused on improving each individual.
You recently signed a contract extension. Is it reassuring to have the stability of a long deal?
To be honest, I don't even think about it. I am in the here and now and that is my focus. I want to have a successful team now. We are extremely hungry to have success and I am making sure we do that at training so it then transfers to the game.
What does it mean to be a Wests Tiger in 2021?
There are not many people who will see us as a threat. I think it is a good opportunity for us to do what we have to do each day and each week and build ourselves into a good position.
Originally published as How Maguire has retuned the Tigers for 2021