Wests Tigers’ head of football Tim Sheens has hit back at the criticism aimed at his club following their horror 72-6 loss to the Roosters.
It comes after News Corp journalist Phil Rothfield took aim at Sheens in a column for The Daily Telegraph on Monday saying he “has a lot to answer for” after the Tigers’ “shocking capitulation” and “most embarrassing loss in the club’s history.”
Sheens acknowledged that the result is “disappointing” but urged fans to “stay the course” because “we have to keep moving forward.”
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“What are you going to do? Lay down and cry? No way,” Sheens told News Corp.
“We are going to keep going — that’s what you’ve got to do.
“I wouldn’t call it a hiccup but these punches in the face have to be taken sometimes.
“The assumption is we have given up.
“We lost three players in the first 60 minutes… It was obviously disappointing for everyone in the club, the players and certainly the fans. But we have to keep moving forward.
“People still talk about ‘Madge’ (ex-coach Michael Maguire). I did offer (Cameron) Ciraldo a five-year deal. It wasn’t me taking his spot.
“Now I’m an interim to prepare Benji (Marshall) for the (next) three years.”
Sheens also confirmed the club is still recruiting for next season and “there will be players moved on.”
And speaking of recruitment he addressed concerns that Eels star Isaiah Papali’i might back out of his deal, saying: “Isaiah is committed to our club. He has said so, his agent has said so — I don’t want to hear (he isn’t coming) again.”
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However speaking on NRL 360 on Monday night Rothfield doubled down on his column and questioned why Sheens thought it was a good idea to release Luciano Leilua mid-season and grant loan deals to David Nofoaluma and Oliver Gildart.
“Why did they let those three players go?” Rothfield said.
“That shows what’s wrong with the Tigers’ system. (Nofoaluma) is not playing reserve grade in Melbourne.”
But NRL 360 co-host Paul Kent believes the decision to release Leilua and loan out Nofoaluma and Gildart is “not a bad idea.”
“When you release players before their contracts are up you get salary cap dispensation,” he said.
“The money they saved by letting all of them go, say they save $800,000 for the rest of the season, that goes into the cap for next season.”
Rothfield questioned though if the Tigers would spend that cash wisely — and if there’s even any available players worth signing.
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“The last time the Tigers had all this cash to play with they signed Josh Reynolds on $850,000, Moses Mbye on $900,000 and Russell Packer on nearly $1 million.
“What I’m saying is that just having this cash is not going to solve the Tigers.
“This is a slow fix, it’s a rebuild.”
Kent agreed but stressed that “whatever they’ve saved by releasing those three players, if they can turn that into a signing for next year it’s a good decision because they weren’t making the finals this year.
“If they don’t sign anybody then it’s a dud decision,” he added.