Maguire defends axing second veteran Tiger

Matt Encarnacion and Darren Walton
Chris Lawrence is the second Tigers veteran in two weeks to be dropped by coach Michael Maguire

Wests Tigers coach Michael Maguire insists his playing group are on board with his ruthless selection calls that have claimed another veteran in Chris Lawrence.

A week after dropping former captain Benji Marshall, Maguire this week continued his quest for consistency by axing another ex-skipper in Lawrence.

"They're big decisions ... I have high respect and regard for both (Marshall and Lawrence)," Maguire said ahead of Saturday's NRL clash with North Queensland.

Maguire said Lawrence, who has spent all 15 years of his NRL career at the club, the wants the organisation to be successful.

"So he understands where we're going.

"And I talk very openly with him and all my players around what we want to stand for, as a club, and how we're doing things moving forward."

The decision comes a week after the brutal call to demote Marshall, who was among the Dally M medal leaders after prior to his omission.

It prompted Maguire to reinforce his desire to transform the Tigers into one of the heavyweights of the competition.

And he's adamant the players are on board.

"We're trying to shoot for being in that top echelon," he said.

"We want to be the winning club. We want to make sure we're doing it diligently so we all grow into the good habits and try and perform to be at the top end.

"At this present moment, we've got teams like the (Sydney) Roosters and Parramatta, and those guys are training and performing at a high level.

"We're no different.

"When you're talking to players around why we're doing things, they understand."

Lawrence's exclusion is one of four changes Maguire has made to the team that lost their second successive game last week.

Tommy Talau (hamstring), Russell Packer (suspended) and Alex Seyfarth are also out, with Robert Jennings, Luke Garner, Matt Eisenhuth and Sam McIntyre in.

They face a Cowboys side that has also suffered back-to-back defeats that has raised questions around coach Paul Green's future.

Compounding their form are injuries to Valentine Holmes, Jordan McLean, Michael Morgan and John Asiata that has left Green without serious strike power.

Green said having the support of his players was better than the alternative.

"But it's not an issue for us internally," he said.

"We're accountable for all of our performances, myself included, and we were disappointed with the last two games in particular.

"We just need to get some consistent performances, back them up and that talk will stop. They'll talk about someone else. It's the way of the game, unfortunately."

STATS THAT MATTER

* Of all current teams, the Tigers have their best win percentage against the Cowboys at 56.8 per cent (21/ 37), and their second best against any team.

* David Nofoaluma and Kyle Feldt lead the NRL in tries this season with six.

* In their past seven games, Wests Tigers have outscored the Cowboys 46-0 in the opening 20 minutes.