Wests Tigers Coach Jason Taylor says Saturday's season opener against the New Zealand Warriors will be a battle won in the forwards, not the backs and halves.
Despite the high-profile matchup of James Tedesco and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, and the return from injury of Shaun Johnson, Taylor was adamant that controlling the middle through the forwards would be key on the day — especially in predicted 35 degree heat.
"The Warriors are a big strong team with some great attacking players," he said.
"It'll be what happens in the middle that counts.
"Their forwards are strong and we need to hold them. If we don't do that, those guys on the edges [Johnson and Tuivasa-Sheck] will be too tough to handle."
With a new-look forward pack including key off-season recruit Tim Grant, Taylor said his side were well prepared for a tough battle in the forwards on Saturday, and excited to be able to show Wests Tigers fans what they can do in season 2016.
"Tim's really added a lot to the Club since coming here — not just an on-field perspective, but also the guy that he is and the way he is around the place," he said.
"He's really added a lot and I'm really confident in the forward pack that's starting for us.
"Sauaso Sue has been one of our best trainers in the pre-season and having him in the team with Tim and Woodsy [Aaron Woods]... and then with the back-row we've got and Manaia's a really talented young guy — I'm really confident in our forward pack.
"We've had a great pre-season and we're all upbeat about the season ahead," he said.
"It's great to open the season here at Campbelltown Sports Stadium. We'd really love people to come down and watch the team play because there's a lot of hard work that's gone and we're looking forward to giving our fans a lot to cheer about in 2016.
"I think we will do that, I really do, and it'd be great for them to get here and see that."
Wests Tigers will take on the Warriors on Saturday, March 5, with kickoff from 5:30pm. With tickets still available via Ticketek and at the gate on the day, make sure you're there!
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