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With the wolves circling and a third straight wooden spoon looming large, Wests Tigers coach Benji Marshall has come out swinging in defence of his club's handling of young gun Lachlan Galvin.

After battling a hand injury for a number of weeks, Galvin will miss Saturday's clash against Gold Coast, with a nine of nine straight losses taking a toll physically and mentally on the rookie who remains under contract until 2026.

Speaking at Leichhardt Oval alongside news of a $40 million upgrade for the iconic suburban venue, Marshall was adamant it had always been the plan to rest the 18-year-old this week and dismissed talk of his early release from the club.

"Lachie is 18 years old, he has played every game straight bar the two he got suspended (Round 5-6) and it happens to a lot of kids, they go through ups and downs and sometimes they need a spell," Marshall told media at Leichhardt Oval.

"We decided it was this week – regardless of the stuff that went on – he was going to have a rest this week anyway.

Wests Tigers v Titans: Round 15

"The decision to rest him this week is more about the fact that as an 18-year-old you go through ups and downs and lulls, and he’s been carrying a bit of an injury in his hand so just a rest and he’ll be back next week.

"It doesn’t matter what other people say [about him playing injured]. We’ve got a pretty handy medical department here and we make decisions based on the best interests of our players. You can say whatever you want but unless you are inside these four walls then you can't understand what’s happening with injuries.

Lachlan Galvin and Jarome Luai will be eyeing off a formidable partnership together in 2025.
Lachlan Galvin and Jarome Luai will be eyeing off a formidable partnership together in 2025. ©NRL Photos

"We’ve cleared that up [about him wanting to leave]. Shane Richardson [Tigers CEO] went and met with his parents and they’ve made it clear that he wants to stay.

Lachie wants to be here and with us with our vision moving forward so that’s all that needs to be said. He is going nowhere.

Benji Marshall

With Galvin and halfback Jayden Sullivan both sidelined by injury, skipper Api Koroisau has made the selfless call to play halfback against the Titans, despite being in the mix for a Blues Origin berth as a hooker.

Koroisau was overlooked by NSW coach Michael Maguire for Game One and needed a big game against the Titans to push his claims for a recall, but Marshall said the 31-year-old had put the team before his own interests in offering to take on the halfback duties and, essentially, end his claims at an Origin recall.

"One of our biggest things in our club is 'team first' and Api lives that and that’s why he’s the captain," Marshall said. "I thought it was unfair for me to put him in the seven when he is pushing to play nine in Origin but he saw it differently.

Got to be Api with that performance

"I brought it up with him that he was going for Origin as a hooker but he said that’s not his focus at the moment, it’s what’s best for the team.

"He put his hand up to do it and it's a pretty unselfish act. That’s the respect he has for his teammates and how much he wants to help us get out of it."

With games against top-eight sides the Raiders, Roosters, Storm and Sharks to follow this weekend's game, Marshall knows a victory in front of the Leichhardt Oval faithful is non-negotiable, with three more games to come at the venue in 2024.

The club is yet to confirm its stadium allocation for the 2025 season and beyond, with ARLC Chairman Peter V'Landys AM confident the suburban ground would host important games for the club in the years to come.

"The strategy has always been to bring them back to Leichhardt Oval, but that's a matter for the Tigers club and Barry O'Farrell. I'm sure that they will be playing more games here [in the future]," V'Landys said. 

"But for me, it's more important for the junior games here. It's a multifaceted facility and especially for women's sport. We're playing our U/19's State of Origin games here so it's more than just the Tigers. It's all about the community."

After giving their fans hope with back-to-back wins over the Sharks and Eels in Rounds 3 and 4, the Tigers have fallen back into their old ways, conceding 31 points per game across the past nine matches.

"We obviously we want to be in a better position and the most frustrating part is we’ve shown glimpses in games where we have shown we’ve got what it takes," Marshall said.

"But in other games we’ve shown we’ve gone backwards a little bit so we need to fix that tomorrow.

"We have a plan of where we are going and we will stick to that regardless of what people say. People in the media are paid to have their opinions and when you’re not winning it amplifies a lot of things.

"I’ve lived the highest of highs and lowest of lows in my career so this is not different to what I have experienced before.

"One thing I have made clear is that when you are in this position you know what you are taking on and if the results are not there you are going to cop the flak and you just have to deal with that."

Acknowledgement of Country

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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