Tim Sheens' defiant call after Adam Doueihi move sparks criticism

The Tigers coach believes the versatile player will succeed at fullback.

Adam Doueihi during a match and Tim Sheens after an NRL game.
Tim Sheens (pictured right) has defended his decision to play Adam Doueihi (pictured left) at fullback against the Storm this Friday night. (Getty Images)

Tigers coach Tim Sheens has defended his divisive decision to move Adam Doueihi to fullback and compared some assets of his game to Rabbitohs ace Latrell Mitchell. The Tigers are winless to start the NRL season, despite some hopes Sheens and assistant coach Benji Marshall could reverse the fortunes of the struggling club.

The Tigers are struggling in attack and were staring at a heavy loss to the Bulldogs, before Sheens opted for a spine shake-up and moved Doueihi to fullback and brought Brandon Wakeham on in the halves. The team responded with three tries to fall short 26-22.

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And the Tigers coach has named Doueihi at fullback against Melbourne on Friday night for the first time since 2020, with Wakeham handed the keys to the team in the halves alongside Luke Brooks. Sheens believes this will help Brooks to get back to running the ball, while giving Doueihi more freedom at the back as he battles through foot pain.

While the move has divided fans, Sheens believes Doueihi can excel in the position. Doueihi spent parts of his early career at fullback, and set up five tries in three games playing there for Lebanon in last year's World Cup.

"If you look at the World Cup ... his size when he chimes in on the edges, he is a big fullback," Sheens said. "Big fullbacks like Latrell and company are hard to nail one-on-one with the football.

"He's got good skills to get the ball away, and he reads the game very well. It's just him reading the game and organising the offence that is a bonus for us."

Tim Sheens hits back at NRL critics

Sheens also blasted the notion that he has moved Doueihi around too much to let him get settled. "He has played No.6, or on occasion No.1. For me, he has been mainly in the front line," Sheens said.

While Sheens stopped short of claiming the move was a long-term plan, he said Brooks played his best game when someone else was organising the attach. "It's not that (Brooks) doesn't understand the game. But he is much better as a runner than an organiser at this stage," Sheens said. "Even with Mitchell (Moses), he was more of a runner off Mitchell as well.

"He's got speed, a good kicking game, he's a tough little competitor. And he can tell people what to do. But I'm comfortable with Adam controlling the numbers from the back and Brandon organising where we are going on the field, it becomes a little easier for Brooksy."

Luke Brooks, pictured here in action for the Wests Tigers.
Luke Brooks in action for the Wests Tigers. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

Earlier in the week, NRL 360 host Braith Anasta noted the difference in Brooks' form when Fiji international Wakeham took to the field to partner the halfback. "Those couple of tries at the end of the game really took some pressure off the Tigers," Anasta said.

“... Give him [Brooks] some credit. He was very good at the end of the game. Maybe that [Wakeham’s addition] unlocks Brooks a little bit, that’s what they’d be hoping. He came up with a few tries that he would’ve scored in his heyday. He has it in there somewhere and we saw it.”

While Anasta thinks the shake-up could be needed, NRL reporter David Riccio questioned Doueihi's move to fullback. Doueihi has been struggling with a foot injury in recent weeks.

“All of last week Doueihi trained one session, the captain’s run,” Riccio said. “He’s got turf toe effectively, will struggle to train this week. He’s moving to fullback, we all know how much running is involved.”

with AAP

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