NRL great James Graham has taken aim at the Wests Tigers and their performance against the Bulldogs after pinpointing an Api Koroisau moment that summed up their loss. The Tigers fell just short in a 26-22 thriller against Canterbury as the mercury hovered around the 32-degree mark when the match kicked off just after 4pm.
The Tigers headed into the season with renewed hopes with Tim Sheens - supported club legend Benji Marshall - leading the charge. However, the Tigers are 0-3 despite coming close against an impressive Bulldogs outfit last Sunday.
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And Graham has called out the Tigers for their lack of attacking efforts. Sheens made a number of changes to the spine towards the end of the Bulldogs loss, which saw them score three tries.
But Graham pointed out on Triple M that the team was not supporting captain and new signing Koroisau when he was pushing for a try. The No.9 picked up the ball at dummy-half close to the Bulldogs' try line in the first half, but was forced into a 360 degree spin when looking for support.
Graham said Koroisau is on a 'different level' at the moment to his teammates and they need to catch-up if the Tigers are to improve. “I think what summed it up, there was a moment in that first half. There was a quick play the ball, Api Koroisau jumped out, there’s no one around, he’s looking, he does a complete 360 and there’s no Tiger there ready to come and take advantage,” Graham said on Triple M.
“They were right on the Bulldogs’ tryline. Then if you look at when they actually turned it around and they started to look good, it was all coming through the ruck.
“The instinct players should be around Api Koroisau and ready to go straight away because it looks like he’s too far above them, he’s on a different level and they’re making him look bad...I feel for Api Koroisau because he’s one of, if not the best No.9 in our game. They’ve got to turn things around quickly and it worked in the last 20 (minutes).”
Api Koroisau addresses Tigers' attacking game
Graham was talking about an issue that Koroisau addressed in his post-match interview. The captain agreed the team needed to get up to speed with the ruck to get ahead in the game.
“I think they haven’t had too much front-foot footy in the last few years. I’ve spoken to them about it, that takes a lot of getting used to,” he said. "It’s a reaction thing, understanding the ruck and if it’s quick.
“Second half it got a lot better, they were pumping out of that line so I think it’s once again something to work on at training.”
While the Tigers are struggling, they welcomed English recruit John Bateman to the team on the weekend. In a winless team struggling for form, Bateman looked dangerous in attack after making several tough runs, as well as 28 tackles in defence.
Bateman's first game for the Tigers came after his arrival to Australia was delayed until late last month due to visa issues, having signed a four-year deal in December. "I've just been acclimatising and getting used to it. I don't know any of the boys or the plays. I was still a bit scratchy, understanding what we are doing," he said.
Bateman did not watch the NRL during his time back in England after a stint at the Raiders, where he remained one of the world's best edge forwards at Wigan. But he is under no illusions of the job ahead at the battling Tigers, hoping to return to the heights he was able to reach at the Raiders - which included a grand final and preliminary final appearance, plus a Dally M second rower of the year gong in 2019.
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