Wests Tigers 6 Melbourne Storm 26
Familiar position ... the Tigers behind the posts. Photo: Getty Images
WESTS TIGERS coach Tim Sheens says he will move on from his decade-long post as head coach of the club if officials ask him to do so.
Speculation has been mounting the veteran coach would be shown the door if the Tigers didn't make the finals this season. And after last night's loss at the hands of Melbourne Storm at Leichhardt Oval, the coach took time to answer his critics, who say three finals series in 10 years is not good enough.
"If they decide to move me on, then they'll move me on," Sheens said post-match. "That's the club, it's not me. That is something out of my control. It's something for the club to consider. There will always be speculation about the coach when a season drops away. Two weeks ago there wasn't that issue, two weeks down the track there is. But my plans are we've got to work hard to improve on what went wrong this year."
Without captain Robbie Farah, and with their fifth halves combination, the Tigers were a shambles against the Storm. Sheens said depth was a big issue for the club, a responsibility he shared, and that there would be a thorough season review. "Like every club who missed the eight, there will be heavy reviews and we'll look hard at that again," Sheens said. "From the staff down, it'll be a complete club review and then give them all some time off and back into training six weeks after the grand final. We'll review everybody's injuries and issues and sit down and have a one-on-one with everybody."
Star halfback Benji Marshall was just as honest, admitting his performances in recent weeks had been well below standard.
"I'm not going to lie - I wasn't happy with my game today," Marshall said. "It wasn't one of my best, but not through lack of trying. I probably tried too hard. Obviously, we missed Robbie. Robbie has played Origin, for his country and he is our captain. When we work together, it's a lot easier when he takes control of that ruck and I can play my normal role. But that's not an excuse."
Sheens said: "Our depth needs to be improved - we really need to look hard at that because we really had trouble when one or two of our key players dropped out. It's just a season of disappointment."
In front of a home crowd, the Tigers were in a class of their own - NSW Cup, in fact. And while Melbourne were dragged down to their sloppy level at times, it was clear from the outset who would be playing finals football next week. The final scoreline confirmed it.
Other than a short spurt either side of the break, the rudderless Tigers never looked in the match.
But it wasn't all sunshine and lollipops for Craig Bellamy either, with try-scoring centre Will Chambers leaving the field with a serious hamstring injury that could rule him out of next week's qualifying final with South Sydney. Second-rower Todd Lowrie also suffered a pec injury that will be assessed today.
Regardless, Bellamy is confident the likely returns of Jason Ryles, Anthony Quinn and Justin O'Neill mean his side won't lose any ground to the Rabbitohs in Melbourne.
The super coach will come up against his protege Michael Maguire, and had a grin on his face as he described an in-form Souths outfit.
One got the sense he was proud of Maguire's achievements in his first season as an NRL coach. And both he and captain Cameron Smith were only too aware of the threat former teammate Greg Inglis posed.
MELBOURNE 26 (R Hoffman S Manu B Norrie K Proctor S Waqa tries C Smith 3 goals) bt WESTS TIGERS 6 (B Marshall try B Marshall goal) at Leichhardt Oval. Referee: Tony Archer, Brett Suttor. Crowd: 10,834.