Saturday will mark the fourth time in the last five seasons that Wests Tigers have opened their campaign away from home, kicking off the year against the Gold Coast Titans at Cbus Super Stadium on Saturday, March 7.
As is always the case with the opening round of the year, anticipation and interest is high, but perhaps even more so for the two teams involved this week.
Both sides will no doubt be desperate to get their 2015 underway on a winning note.
Following their strong trial form — including a demolition of the Titans in the Auckland Nines earlier this year — Jason Taylor’s side will head into Saturday’s match as firm favourites, but certainly still wary of the talent that Neil Henry’s side possesses, as the new Head Coach alluded to when discussing the game earlier in the week.
“We’re expecting a Titans team that’s really desperate to put the saga of what they’ve been through to the side,” Taylor said. “The best way they’ll do that is playing well.
"We need to be ready for that this weekend — and we are.
“We’ve had some good trial form and a good pre-season overall, but we know that we need to go up a gear this weekend as the season kicks off.
“I’m confident that if we can stick to what we’ve worked on throughout pre-season and deliver for the full 80 minutes, we’ll walk away with the result.”
Forward Keith Galloway, who missed Round 1 last year before returning against the Titans in Round 2 for his first NRL game alongside fellow forward Aaron Woods, spoke a similar sentiment too this week regarding the Club’s focus.
“I don’t think it’s a tricky game to prepare for at all,” he said. “It’s Round 1.
“We’re pumped up. We know they’re going to send out a strong team and they’ll be keen to get out there and play a good game, but so are we. We’ve trained all pre-season for this, so we’re really looking forward to it and ready for it.
“We don’t address any other issue other than the fact that it’s Round 1.
“It’s going to be a tough game; we’ve got to go up there in their backyard, so there’s no doubt that it’s going to be a tough trip for us.”
Especially if the history books are anything to go by.
While Wests Tigers have a relatively strong record against the Gold Coast Titans, winning six of their 13 matches, and a solid record on the Gold Coast too, winning three of seven, the same doesn’t go for new Head Coach Jason Taylor, who has his first game in charge of an NRL side in over 2,000 days this week. Taylor has never won on the Gold Coast from his two matches, and has never defeated a team coached by Neil Henry — losing all four of their encounters.
Henry himself doesn’t have the greatest individual record as a coach against the Wests Tigers, winning just four from 11 matches, but did see his side post 50 points against Wests Tigers in his last match against the joint-venture, Round 26 of the 2013 season.
Full Round 1 Fixtures (home team listed first)
Thursday — Brisbane Broncos vs. South Sydney Rabbitohs
Friday — Parramatta Eels vs. Manly Sea Eagles
Saturday — Newcastle Knights vs. New Zealand Warriors
Saturday — Gold Coast Titans vs. Wests Tigers
Saturday — North Queensland Cowboys vs. Sydney Roosters
Sunday — Cronulla Sharks vs. Canberra Raiders
Sunday — Penrith Panthers vs. Canterbury Bulldogs
Monday — St. George-Illawarra Dragons vs. Melbourne Storm
Wests Tigers Round 1 Fixtures
NRL — Saturday, March 7, 7:00pm AEDT vs. Gold Coast Titans (A)
NYC — Saturday, March 7, 4:45pm AEDT, vs. Gold Coast Titans (A)
NSW Cup — Saturday, March 7, 3:00pm AEDT, vs. Newtown Jets (A)