Wests Tigers coach facing huge problem after Penrith sledge backfires

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Brett Kimmorley, pictured here during the Wests Tigers' clash with Penrith.
Brett Kimmorley looks on during the Wests Tigers' clash with Penrith. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Desperate times call for desperate measures.

And things don’t get much more desperate than a team sitting rock bottom with just three wins for the season, the last of the victories coming way back in round 11.

Throw in a rookie interim coach, out to prove he has what it takes to operate in elite company and without a win on his CV, and those anxiety levels hit peak level.

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Such was the situation facing Brett Kimmorley as he prepared his last-placed Wests Tigers to take on reigning premiers Penrith at CommBank Stadium on Sunday.

The Panthers are putting together one of the greatest rugby league seasons on record – winning 15 of 16 games before meeting the Tigers – and felt confident enough to rest seven of their best players.

NSW Origin stars Isaah Yeo, Liam Martin, Nathan Cleary, Jarome Luai, Stephen Crichton, Brian To'o and Api Koroisau were told to get as far away from footy as they could before reporting for duty later this week.

Yeo headed for a farm in the state's central west while Cleary did what thousands of Aussies blokes his age do, booking a cheap flight to Bali.

The rest also followed orders, staying well clear of their coach and teammates and re-charging the batteries for the run to the finals.

Kimmorley, desperate for any nub of motivation, told his players Penrith was disrespecting them by leaving the bulk of its top-line players out.

"They’re the only team to rest their players before the team sheet came out," he said.

"We thought it wasn't respectful. But it got us up which helped us…it’s something you've got to do as a coach to get your players up.

"My (job) as a coach is to be a story-teller. And I used that for us during the week.

"They can do what they want but I needed to be able to sell a story to my players about why we can get up this week.

"Sometimes you need to say things to create a story and give a reason why we're going to prove people wrong. We got a good fight (from our players)."

Panthers players, pictured here celebrating victory after their win over Wests Tigers.
Panthers players celebrate victory after their win over Wests Tigers. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Former NRL coach's warning to Brett Kimmorley

Maybe, but they didn't get the two points.

Penrith rested seven players – more than half their team – and still prevailed 18-16.

So, where does Kimmorley take it from here?

"The problem with that line of motivation is it didn't work," one former NRL coach told Yahoo Sport Australia.

"He's basically said they sent out a second-rate team but we still couldn't beat them.

"It doesn’t leave you much room to move. I'm not sure how he gets them up from here.

"He'd want to be one helluva story-teller."

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