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Stefano Utoikamanu has put his hand up to lead from the front against the in-from Panthers on Sunday afternoon.

The young forward was disappointed with how the Wests Tigers forwards performed against Cronulla last weekend and they’ll be seeking improvement when they travel to Redcliffe this time around.

“This week we’ve got to improve a lot,” Utoikamanu said.

“Last week wasn’t our best performance [against the Sharks], especially in the middle. As a pack, we didn’t play our best … this week we’ve got to be a lot better.

“From the start, it was too fast and we spent the whole game catching up, but we couldn’t. They built too much momentum in the game and we couldn’t get back into it.”

Utoikamanu understands it’s going to be a big challenge against Penrith’s strong forward pack — which boasts the likes of James Fisher-Harris, Isaah Yeo, Tevita Pangai Junior and Viliame Kikau — but he’s looking forward to the contest.

Following an impressive 26-6 win at Leichhardt Oval in Round 13, Wests Tigers will be aiming for back-to-back wins against the Mountain Men for the first time since 2013. 

“It’s going to be tough coming up against some of the best players in the comp,” he said.

“They base their game on what we want to do. We’ve got to do the same against them — complete and be happy to chase teams down — just stay in the grind.”

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Although finals are all but out of reach in 2021, Utoikamanu said Wests Tigers want to finish the year on a high with matches against the Panthers and Bulldogs to round out the season.

“We need to put in two good performances for ourselves,” he said.

“Everyone wants to play their best … we want to finish strong.”

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Wests Tigers respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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