Api Koroisau in eye-catching development as glaring issue for Wests Tigers solved

The move will be particularly eye-opening for NRL Fantasy and SuperCoach players.

Pictured here, Api Koroisau kicking for goal for the Wests Tigers in NRL pre-season against the Warriors.
The sight of Api Koroisau kicking for goal instead of Wests Tigers recruit Aidan Sezer took many NRL fans by surprise. Pic: Getty/Fox League

Api Koroisau has seemingly answered a major question at the Wests Tigers ahead of the NRL season after assuming the goal-kicking duties in his side's 18-16 pre-season victory over the Warriors on Sunday. The two-point win for the Tigers was notable for a number of reasons, including the impressive return to rugby league for Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and the gutsy performance of the Warriors, who played for more than an hour with 12 men after prop Zyon Maiu'u was sent off for a high shot.

It was also an encouraging start to Tigers great Benji Marshall's first full season in charge of the joint-venture club, in their quest to avoid a third-straight wooden spoon. Marshall's men have the bye in round one but the Tigers coach named a strong side for the pre-season match against the Warriors in Christchurch, including club debuts for new halves recruits Aidan Sezer and Jayden Sullivan.

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Sezer was particularly impressive after being brought to the club to add experience and direction to a backline that has struggled in recent seasons. His arrival is all the more crucial after the departure of long-time playmaker Luke Brooks to Manly, with Sezer calling the shots and marshalling his troops well, while also finding the try line himself on Sunday.

Sezer was expected by many to take over the goal-kicking duties at the Tigers in 2024, having kicked at over 80% success rate during previous stints in the NRL with Gold Coast and Canberra. The Tigers have struggled at times in the kicking department since the departure of Jackson Hastings to Newcastle. Regular sharp-shooter Adam Doueihi was kicking at around a 75% success rate before being ruled out for 16 months in 2023 with his third ACL tear. Brooks had been another goal-kicking option for the Tigers but only enjoyed a success rate of around 66%.

Koroisau somewhat surprisingly took over the goal-kicking duties during the 2023 season for the Tigers and enjoyed a success rate of 85% - putting him among the top kickers in the league. For a player that had never been previously thought of as an NRL sharp-shooter, it was a superb feat for the Tigers skipper.

Seen here, Wests Tigers captain Api Koroisau takes the bal to the defensive line against the Warriors.
Wests Tigers captain Api Koroisau takes the bal to the defensive line against the Warriors. Pic: Getty

Api Koroisau firms as first choice Tigers goal-kicker

And it appears as though Koroisau has stamped himself as first-choice kicker for the club in 2024, if Sunday's pre-season match is anything to go by. The Wests Tigers skipper nailed three-from-three conversions and his immaculate performance with the boot ultimately proved the difference after both sides finished the match with the same number of tries.

It's unclear if Sezer was carrying a niggle that would have prevented him from kicking for goal but from the basis of Sunday's display and his efforts in 2023, Koroisau appears to be a solid solution to an area where the Tigers have struggled in previous years. The goal-kicking development has also made plenty of NRL Fantasy and SuperCoach players sit up and take notice, with Koroisau's popularity likely to skyrocket.

Aidan Sezer impresses in debut game for Tigers

While Koroisau's goal-kicking grabbed plenty oƒ headlines, it was the in-game kicking from Sezer that helped the Tigers take control of the contest. Sezer's fellow recruit Sullivan benefited from the direction in attack and extra space to utilise his dangerous running game and the Tigers will be hoping the pair can strike up a successful combination in 2024.

The wooden spooners went through 14 different spine combinations last season and Marshall will be hoping to bring some stability to that area in 2024. The Tigers - who have won just eight times over the last two seasons - went ahead on Sunday through lock Alex Seyfarth after some crafty dummy half work from Koroisau.

Sezer's excellent passing and support play saw him start and finish off the Tigers' second try, while Alex Lobb made it 18-6 in the second half off the back of a kick. Meantime, former Dally M Medal winner and All Black Tuivasa-Sheck marked a brilliant return to league with a strong showing that featured 139m running metres, three tackle busts and some crunching defence.

His undermanned Warriors defied their numerical disadvantage to score the last two tries of the game and set up a grandstand finish. Paul Roache's try out of dummy-half was followed by a clever grubber from Geronimo Doyle that saw winger Setu score in the corner. Ben Farr was unable to slot the sideline conversion though as the Tigers held on for the win.

with AAP

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