Head coach Michael Maguire is excited to see how his new recruits perform when Wests Tigers open their 2021 campaign against Canberra Raiders at GIO Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
With new recruits James Tamou, Joe Ofahengaue, James Roberts, Daine Laurie and Stefano Utoikamanu all selected for the match, Maguire is eager to see his new players in action as the club looks to start the season on a positive note.
“It’s always a special moment when you’ve got players playing their first game for the club or debuting,” Maguire said.
“We’re going to have a good moment with the players and talking about that. They’ve prepared well and they’re excited for Round 1.
“All the recruits have impressed me — I’m not going to isolate one of them. They’ve all bought in to what we’re doing here with how they’ve gone about their training.”
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New recruit Laurie, who joined the club late in the pre-season, has been handed the fullback position for the opening round clash against Canberra Raiders and has the opportunity to lock down the role with an impressive performance in the nation’s capital.
“I think it’s up to him to see how he plays and how he performs,” he said.
“He’s a really mature young man and loves playing footy. The way he can play with his composure and tempo — that’s something I’ve been impressed with.
“In the trial match [against Manly Warringah], he showed us lots of good things that we can talk about but at the end of the day, it’s about how he performs in Round 1. We’ll get through the first game and then assess from there.”
With Adam Doueihi suspended for the first game of the season and Laurie being named at the back, Moses Mbye has been selected at five-eighth to partner Luke Brooks in the halves.
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“I chose him because of his experience. He’s played the game for a long time,” Maguire said.
“He’s trained with us at 6 — and at fullback too — but with Adam [Doueihi] off for the first week, I thought he was the man to go.”
After a long pre-season, Maguire is excited for Wests Tigers campaign to begin.
“It’s exciting. There’s been a lot of work that has gone in so we’re looking forward to playing some footy,” he said.
“I’ll let the players show what they’ve got and they’ll show that through their actions.”
Match: Raiders v Wests Tigers
Round 1 -
Venue: GIO Stadium, Canberra