Wests Tigers Intrust Super Premiership Coach Paul Stringer hopes a strong first round defensive performance when the side hosts the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles at Campbelltown Sports Stadium on Saturday will set the tone for the season ahead.
After a gruelling pre-season and a successful trial period in which Wests Tigers won both their matches, Stringer said he remains confident in the team’s ability to pile on points but emphasised that defence was the key for his side especially early on in the season.
“It's no secret that defence wins games," Stringer said.
"Most guys get to this level on their attacking ability whereas not many people get to this level with their defensive ability, so we’ve worked a lot on contact.
“After the trials, we set some goals with our defence. I think we’re good enough that if we can have three tries or less scored against us, we can score four or five in attack.
“It’s about playing with control, making the opposition tackle us as much as we can and not give them the ball. Like every team, the guys are going to make mistakes but as long as we don’t do them set after set, we'll be okay and in the contest on the day.
Whilst the Coach admitted it can get tricky for players coming in and out of first-grade, he itterated the importance of all three Wests Tigers grades following the same structure in attack and defence to ensure that players can be at their most effective each week.
“It will be hard for the guys to come back that have been playing NRL but we play the same structure, we play the same thing,” he said.
“Hopefully we can put the same gloves on and it all fits the same.”
After 143 appearances in the National Rugby League as a player and spending time as the Club's NYC Holden Cup Assistant Coach last year, Stringer also expressed his delight and excitement to be able to be the Head Coach of the Club's reserve grade side for 2016.
“It’s good to get an opportunity with the Club at this level again and helping out with the NRL squad,” Stringer said. “I think it is important to tie back down through the grades so we’re all doing the same thing and being coached the same way.
The side consists of several campaigners from 2015 such as Josh Drinkwater, Chance Peni and Nathan Milone while Watson Heleta, John Tohi, Jeremy Marshall-King, Jacob Liddle and Tyler Cassel have all come up from the National Youth Competition.
Several new faces will also feature in the side including rugby union convert Jesse Parahi, who will make his first appearance in Wests Tigers colours after overcoming an ankle injury sustained in the captains run of the club’s Sunshine Coast trial.
Stringer said he was confident in Parahi’s ability leading into his first match.
“His enthusiasm, attitude towards the game and wanting to learn coming from rugby union. I’m really looking forward to him having a go,”
Young hooker Jacob Liddle also impressed the coach over the pre-season and throughout the trial games, with Stringer looking forward to seeing the Central Coast product in action.
“Jacob was outstanding in the 20s. I’ve known Jacob since he was a little bit younger when he was at Wyong,” Stringer said. “The kid can play, he probably just needs to work on his defence, which is no news to him, but he’s definitely going to be a great player for us.”
Wests Tigers kick off against the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles at 1:15pm on Saturday.