Tim Sheens and Benji Marshall 'not working' amid 'terrible' Tigers drama

The Wests Tigers produced one of their worst performances in some time against Newcastle.

Tim Sheens and Benji Marshall, pictured here at the Wests Tigers.
Tim Sheens and Benji Marshall at the Wests Tigers. Image: Getty

Leading NRL journalist Phil Rothfield has declared the coaching dynamic at the Wests Tigers between Tim Sheens, Benji Marshall and Robbie Farah "isn't working". The Tigers slumped to 0-2 on the new season on Sunday, going down 14-12 to a Newcastle side that lost Kalyn Ponga and Jayden Brailey to concussions.

It followed a loss in the opening round to the Gold Coast, with both games played in front of their home fans at Leichhardt Oval. Sunday's defeat has was particularly galling for the Tigers faithful after the Knights lost their two best players in the early stages of the game.

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The Tigers missed 33 tackles and made 18 errors in one of their worst performances in some time. The back-to-back losses have heaped pressure on coach Sheens, who is working with Marshall and Farah as assistants with a view for Marshall to take over as head coach in the future.

But according to Rothfield, the situation isn't working like it should be. “The story out of yesterday is the coaching debacle at the Wests Tigers,” Rothfield said on Sky Sports radio.

“(Sheens) had been out of the game, in England for 10 years and lost two jobs while he was coaching over there. You saw the way they played yesterday was just terrible, the Benji, Robbie, Tim Sheens coaching trifecta is not working, they were dreadful yesterday."

Rothfield expressed concerns about whether Sheens was still up to the task of coaching an NRL team in 2023 given he's 72 years old. “I don’t want to bag Tim Sheens heavy, but I did say last year I have a concern that he has been out of the game for so long,” Rothfield said.

“The premiership was in 2005, what’s that 18 years ago? Benji and Robbie are untried NRL coaches and I know there’s meant to be an apprenticeship here, and I know they are planning. They are not going to be anywhere near a premiership for the next three or four years."

Wests Tigers players, pictured here during their loss to Newcastle.
Wests Tigers players look on during their loss to Newcastle. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

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Last month, fellow NRL writer Paul Kent revealed Sheens and Marshall “aren’t agreeing on everything." Kent said on NRL 360: “I think there’s a few quizzical looks between the two of them at the moment. I don’t think it is a blue, I don’t think it’s anything major but I think there’s already signs there are slightly different philosophies.

“The other part to the Tigers is, they have made some big calls... but they have done it in the past and it’s proven to be the wrong call. Michael Maguire was seen as a sea change, get a hard-edged coach in and the players simply weren’t tough enough to handle him.

“Before that we had Ivan Cleary who pushed the salary cap and signed some big players... which took years to fix. The Benji Marshall and Tim Sheens partnership is going to be a story all year, because it has got a narrative.

“If it is successful, we are going to ask of Sheens should continue to coach... if it becomes a cropper, we are going to be saying ‘hang on, the bloke that is replacing him has been sat with him for two years, what is he going to bring that’s different?”

Speaking on Fox Sports on Sunday, Michael Ennis described Sheens' side's effort as “one of the most disappointing performances from the Tigers in recent history”. Fans and pundits were also scathing of their display on social media.

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