Despite being in unfamiliar territory for a home game this weekend, Wests Tigers Head Coach Ivan Cleary says his side is excited to be in Auckland for the NRL’s doubleheader — particularly given the number of Kiwi-born players in the side.
In total, Wests Tigers will have nine players born in New Zealand run out at Mount Smart Stadium to take on the Melbourne Storm, five of which once played with the Warriors and called the stadium home.
To Cleary, that can be a big boost for his side in tomorrow’s game as the side looks to continue their strong start to the season and entrench themselves inside the top four.
“Selfishly, I like coming back [to Auckland],” Cleary joked at today’s press conference.
“I think it’s sort of the way of the game these days.
"It would be nice to play in one venue, but we don’t have that luxury at the moment and part of what we’re building is a club that is financially sustainable so when this opportunity came up, it was great for us.
“It’s a good opportunity for the club, but also an event with the Warriors going so well.
“It’s going to be a great night and I think everyone is looking forward to it.”
While it’s been a dynamic start to the year for the new-look Wests Tigers, Cleary was adamant that the process was still in the early days and evolving every day.
“I think what we’re building here is still in the real early days,” he said.
“When I arrived last year, it was pretty clear that we needed a change.
"We wanted to make changes so we got a lot of different personnel in, and it’s been good to get a bit of confidence in that respect in the first few games. The boys are playing as a team, and we know we’ve got to continue to play better as the season develops and we know we will.”
See what Coach Ivan Cleary, co-captain Russell Packer, Storm captain Cameron Smith and Storm Coach Craig Bellamy had to say about this week’s game in full in the video above!