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OFFICIAL MATCHDAY MAGAZINE OF THE WESTS TIGERS

SATURDAY, APRIL 12, 2014 ROUND 6 WESTS TIGERS v COWBOYS

EDITION No: 2

GET YOUR DAVID NOFOALUMA POSTER INSIDE CATCH UP WITH CLUB LEGEND JOHN SKANDALIS

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SPONSORS / TIGER TALK

A MESSAGE FROM THE CHIEF EXECUTIVE

WELCOME to Wests Tigers’ first Campbelltown Sports Stadium home game for the 2014 season. The club has had exceptional support at our first home games at ANZ Stadium and Leichhardt Oval this year and we look forward to this continuing today against the North Queensland Cowboys. I’d like to thank those hardy souls who spent an afternoon in horrible conditions at Leichhardt Oval last Sunday, the support of more than 16,000 fans went a long way to getting the team over the line against a highly 04

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fancied Manly side. Tonight you’ll see a Wests Tigers side with a great mix of youth and experience with a number of local players keen to impress on their first trip to south-west Sydney for 2014. Young stars like David Nofoaluma and Tim Simona, along with experienced teammates Pat Richards and Chris Lawrence are looking forward to running out in front of a strong home crowd. It’s disappointing to not have James Tedesco in the side but we look forward to welcoming him back in the coming weeks. After this weekend we return to ANZ

Stadium for an away match against the Parramatta Eels. The Easter Monday clash will be the final opportunity to pick up an ANZ Stadium membership and see the remaining six games there for just $50. I urge anybody thinking of becoming a member to get on board and take advantage of this great offer. In round 11 we’re back at Campbelltown Sports Stadium for what will be a great evening celebrating the Wests Tigers’ 15th anniversary against Brisbane Broncos. — Grant Mayer


TIGER TALK / CONTENTS

Contents 06 Coach and captain columns 07 Player profile: Pat Richards 08 Player Profile: James Tedesco

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10 Club legend: John Skandalis

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13 Holden Cup profile: Te Maire Martin 14 Fast five at Campbelltown Stadium 16 Poster: David Nofoaluma 18 Meet the NRL team 20 Meet the Holden Cup team 22 Club insider: Peter Moussa 24 Kids’ activities 27 Holden Cup wrap-up

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CONTACTS Editorial: Roma Dickins Ph: 4640 5126 E: rdickins@fairfaxmedia.com.au Alicia Sylvester Ph: 4640 5100 E:alicia.sylvester@fairfaxmedia.com.au Advertising Sales: Elaine Arriguetti Ph: 4640 5151 E: earriguetti@fairfaxmedia.com.au

Advertising sales: Hannah Lidster Ph: 8741 3300 E:hlidster@weststigers.com.au Contributors: Dan Talintyre, Craig Heydon, Brock Corfe, Amos Hong

Contributors: Ben Chenoweth, Scott Dougherty, Alicia Sylvester

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COMMENT / TIGER TALK

Robbie Farah

The Captain

OBVIOUSLY I was really happy with how the side performed last Sunday against the Sea Eagles and it was great to bounce back after a disappointing loss the week before. Once again the team started really well and put points on early. I’m really happy that we went ahead by such a big margin so quickly. Even in the second half, I don’t think we went out there to protect our lead and while we didn’t score as many points, I was impressed with our efforts. I thought our forwards really stood up and got our side on a roll. It’s not just our starting pack that has been impressive but our bench players who have come on to the field and really made an impact. In saying that, it’s a long season and we are only up to Round 6. North Queensland will be a tough opponent as they were impressive against Newcastle last week. Losing James Tedesco to injury is disappointing but we have a young fullback ready to fill the void in Kurtis Rowe. A home crowd advantage helps and I know that the players are looking forward to playing at Campbelltown Sports Stadium for the first time this year.

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LAST week’s victory over one of the competition favourites in Manly was a real confidence builder and there is a really good feel around the club. We have had a couple of losses this year, but I think in both of those matches it has been more that we have thrown the game away, rather than played poorly. Knocking-off one of the premiership favourites is a big win for us. I said a couple of weeks ago beating South Sydney was a big step forward and that win over Manly was another one. We haven’t achieved anything yet though - we have won three games and it’s a long season. We blew Manly away in the first half last week and it was always going to be tough for them to comeback in those conditions. There’s a lot of work to do but it’s pleasing to see that we can play that way against one of the best sides in the competition. I think other teams will start to take notice of us and this week against North Queensland will be a good test. The challenge for us is finding consistency. That’s what the good teams do. Week in, week out they show up and it’s a tough competition to do it in because there are no bad sides. To be a good side you need show up every week.

Mick Potter

The Coach


TIGER TALK / PROFILE

Point-scoring

machine Pat Richards, a grand final hero in 2005, is back creating magic for Wests Tigers down the left edge of the field.

By Dan Talintyre PAT Richards won the hearts of many Wests Tigers fans with a memorable 2005 season that not only culminated in a grand final victory but also one of the most memorable tries in the club’s history following that flick pass from Benji Marshall. His two seasons at the club (2004-05) saw him amass 26 tries in 39 games, but it was at Wigan Warriors over the next eight years that he would truly establish himself as one of the most productive wingers in rugby league. From 2006 to 2013, Richards chalked up 224 games for the club, scoring 167 tries and 895 conversions, to finish with an incredible 2462 points for the club. He was named as Super League’s Top Points Scorer in four separate seasons, while in 2010, he was also awarded the Man of Steel Award. His time in England also saw

him make his international debut, with seven appearances for Ireland from 2008 to 2013. Now 32, Richards has returned to the joint-merger club where he first tasted premiership success keen to leave his mark on the NRL once more, only this time he has a wealth of experience to call on as well. Richards has played more than 300 competitive games of firstgrade football, and given the start to season 2014 so far, has shown that he hasn’t slowed down in that time either. The winger crossed for tries in each of his first three games, and is forming a deadly combination with Chris Lawrence and James Tedesco on the left edge. Somewhat of a specialist when it comes to field goals, kick-offs and conversions as well, Richards is the complete package and a weapon to watch for every time Wests Tigers take the field. Saturday April 12, 2014 07


PROFILE / TIGER TALK

It allowed me to regain the belief that I had in myself and encourage me to take the line on more. — Fullback James Tedesco

Impressive performances from

fleet-footed fullback By Dan Talintyre AT ONLY 21, James Tedesco is one of the most promising young players in the game and continues to cause problems for opposition teams in both attack and defence, but the fleet-footed fullback certainly hasn’t had it all his way so far in his NRL career. A product of the Camden Rams, Campbelltown hero Tedesco suffered a devastating ACL tear 30 minutes into his first game of first grade that saw him spend the remainder of the 2012 season on the sideline. But in a testament to his character, Tedesco returned stronger than ever, was named to take part in City v Country Origin for 2013, and finished the season with an impressive run of form in the No. 1 jersey despite a disappointing season from the club. Tedesco then went to play international football with Italy at the 2013 Rugby League World Cup, where he scored a try. 08

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The fullback spoke earlier in the year of the confidence that playing in such a tournament gave him, and how it would affect him heading into a new season with Wests Tigers. “It allowed me to regain the belief that I had in myself and encourage me to take the line on more,” Tedesco said during the club’s pre-season. “It’s really helped.” A string of impressive performances soon followed that international campaign, with a breathtaking display of speed and athleticism evident at the Auckland Nines. That, in turn, was quickly followed by a number of impressive games to start the NRL season, including a 60-metre effort against the St George Illawarra Dragons which showcased all of the 21-year-old’s attacking skills. Tedesco has quickly proven himself to be a real weapon when he links up with the play on the left edge alongside young halfback Luke Brooks, and is without doubt one of the stars of the future.


CLUB LEGEND / TIGER TALK

Minto junior’s stellar career By Ben Chenoweth JOHN Skandalis is as shocked as most people when he reads the Wests Tigers history books and sees his name alongside the ‘‘club’s first try-scorer’’ entry. ‘‘It would have paid a fortune if someone had money on it,’’ he said. ‘‘They could have paid their house and car off.’’ The former front-rower is a prime example of the benefits of a successful junior system that has continued to produce like a commercial poultry farm. At the age of nine, the Skandalis family made the move to Minto — a stone’s throw away from Campbelltown. His football career began at local side the Minto Cobras and then progressed through the Western Suburbs Magpies junior ranks. His greatest achievement may not have been establishing himself as a regular first grader but rather cementing himself as one of the Magpies and Tigers favourite sons. ‘‘I love the club and I love what it’s

John Skandalis played 249 games for the Western Suburbs Magpies and Wests Tigers.

about, two great heritage clubs,’’ he said. One of Skandalis’ greatest memories is the 2005 grand final win against the North Queensland Cowboys. It was an achievement two decades in the making. ‘‘Every footballer wants to play in a

grand final but to win one was like the icing on the cake,’’ he said. ‘‘Guys like Liam Fulton and Benji [Marshall] were in their first or second year of first grade but I was in my tenth.’’ Skandalis is currently the Wests Tigers strength and conditioning coach.

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TIGER TALK / COMMUNITY

Anti-bullying message reaches thousands James Tedesco visited students and staff at his former primary school, St Paul’s in Camden.

By Craig Heydon IN THE lead up to the 2014 NRL season, Wests Tigers players took time out from pre-season training to visit schools throughout the community to promote the Tackle Bullying message. Wests Tigers players were proud to be a part of the NRL’s Tackle Bullying campaign, which promotes a powerful anti-bullying message that aims to empower students to stand up for themselves and others who are being bullied. During the 2014 Community Carnival, Wests Tigers players promoted the Tackle Bullying message to over 30,000 school students at more than 120 schools throughout south-west Sydney, the Southern Highlands and Balmain region. In south-west Sydney and the Southern Highlands the club visited

more than 90 schools and over 20,000 students from kindergarten through to year 12. The visits also provided an opportunity for a number of players to return to the school they attended, catching up with their former teachers and spending time with current students. This included James Tedesco returning to his primary school, St Paul’s Camden, in the week before the club played a trial match at Kirkham Oval. Tedesco spent time with current students, as well as teachers from his time at St Paul’s. The fullback was joined at St Paul’s by fellow Wests Tigers players Tim Moltzen and Nathan Brown. Wests Tigers community, welfare and education senior manager Yvette Downey said that the Community Carnival and the Tackle Bullying

campaign promoted important messages for students. ‘‘This year we took part in the best Community Carnival to date, with players able to visit more than 30,000 school students over a three day period,’’ she said. ‘‘Most importantly we were able to deliver the incredibly important messages of the Tackle Bullying campaign which gave the visits added value for both players and students. ‘‘The club also held its second annual Community Leaders dinner during the Community Carnival which is something that we see as being increasingly valuable in future years,’’ she said. ‘‘To be able to engage with those individual and talk about what we do both on and off the field is important as the club continues to grow.’’

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TIGER TALK / HOLDEN CUP

Coach praises recruit’s attitude By Dan Talintyre

■ Te Maire Martin

WITH just one full season of rugby league under his belt, it’s remarkable how far Te Maire Martin has progressed as a footballer. And, for his opponents anyway, it’s just a little scary how good the 19-year-old could be as he continues to develop into a professional rugby league player. Having jumped across from rugby union at aged 18, Martin played his first season of rugby league with Keebra Park State High School and instantly turned heads with a string of brilliant performances. His quick footwork and acceleration had many remembering a young Benji Marshall when he attended the school. Martin graduated from the Keebra Park program to the Wests Tigers Holden Cup squad and has continued to impress all coaching staff. Head coach Andrew Webster has praised the performances of Martin through the first few games of the season, and made special mention of the good approach that the five-eighth has to his game. ‘‘Te Maire’s an excellent trainer,’’ said Webster. ‘‘He’s really competitive with wanting to win in all our fitness aspects. ‘‘He’s really coachable and he listens well. He hasn’t overplayed his hand at all. He’s happy to sit back and then jump into the game at the right time. The boys love him, and he fits into this group really well.’’ His fleet-footed nature and strong passing game have become the hallmarks of Martin’s game so far in his career, but Webster spoke of his vision and timing as the aspect of his game that could have the most impact. ‘‘The best thing about his football is that he plays what he sees. If he sees some space or something, he’ll take that opportunity on all the time.’’ Saturday April 12, 2014 13


FAST FIVE / TIGER TALK

Best five moments at

1

Round 1, 2000: Wests Tigers 24 drew Brisbane Broncos 24 The club’s first ever game since merging Balmain and Wests was played at Campbelltown Stadium, and what a fixture it was! John Skandalis somewhat dubiously crossed for the club’s first ever try, before a hattrick to winger Joel Caine (who would go on to be the leading points scorer for the year) saw the Wests Tigers storm back against the Broncos. Brisbane — who would eventually go on to be premiers that year — with a try in the final minutes of the game leaving the scores locked at 24-24 for an unforgettable draw.

2

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Round 7, 2009: Wests Tigers 26 defeat Newcastle Knights 24 Sunday afternoon football came to Campbelltown in round 7 of 2009 and what a match the fans were treated to! Down 18-6 at half-time, the Wests Tigers stormed back in the second half thanks to a hattrick from Dean Collis to work themselves firmly into the match. In a back-and-forth match, they would ultimately prevail with an incredibly close two-point win — a memorable moment indeed for all fans present on the day!


TIGER TALK / FAST FIVE

Campbelltown Stadium Round 20, 2013: Manly Warringah Sea Eagles 36 defeat Wests Tigers 14 The result might not have gone the way of the Wests Tigers on the night but fans were still treated with something special when Benji Marshall kicked early in the tackle count throughout the second half. Winger David Nofoaluma — playing in his debut season — leapt high to soar above Jorge Taufau and somehow twist his body to plant the ball down in the in-goal for the most spectacular of tries. Nofoaluma’s effort was named the 2013 Dally M Try of the Year.

Round 5, 2007: Wests Tigers 14 defeat Cronulla Sharks 12 In front of a 17,000 strong crowd at Campbelltown, the Wests Tigers emerged with a thrilling golden-point victory against the Cronulla Sharks thanks to a penalty goal from Benji Marshall. Tries to Daniel Fitzhenry and Marshall had helped the hosts come back from a 10-6 half-time deficit, with the match perhaps better remembered for a controversial first-half penalty try to Greg Bird — the first time a penalty try had been awarded since 2005.

3

4

Round 22, 2012: Wests Tigers 51 defeat Parramatta Eels 26 Despite falling behind early against the Parramatta Eels, Wests Tigers bounced back with a 25-point win on the night thanks to the breakout performance of a previously unheralded winger named Marika Koroibete. The Fijian flyer collected four tries on the night to eradicate any hope the Eels had of victory, and permanently leave his mark as one of the most explosive names in the game.

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LINE-UP / TIGER TALK

YOUR NRL WESTS TIGERS

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KURTIS ROWE 1. FULLBACK

DAVID NOFOALUMA 2. WING

TIM SIMONA 3. CENTRE

CHRIS LAWRENCE 4. CENTRE

LUKE BROOKS 7. HALFBACK

AARON WOODS 8. PROP

ROBBIE FARAH (C) 9. HOOKER

KEITH GALLOWAY 10. PROP

ADAM BLAIR 13. LOCK

MARTIN TAUPAU 14. INTERCHANGE

AVA SEUMANUFAGAI 15. INTERCHANGE

JAMES GAVET 16. INTERCHANGE

Saturday April 12, 2014


TIGER TALK / OPPOSITION

PAT RICHARDS 5. WING

BLAKE AUSTIN 6. FIVE-EIGHTH

1. Michael Morgan 2. Matthew Wright 3. Brent Tate 4. Kane Linnett 5. Antonio Winterstein 6. Johnathan Thurston (c) 7. Robert Lui 8. Matt Scott (c) 9. Rory Kostjasyn 10. James Tamou 11. Gavin Cooper 12. Jason Taumalolo 13. Tariq Sims INTERCHANGE: 14. Ray Thompson 15. Joel Riethmuller 16. Ashton Sims 17. Scott Bolton COACH: Paul Green

LIAM FULTON 11. SECOND ROW

BODENE THOMPSON 12. SECOND ROW

* ILLNESS OR INJURY MEANS PLAYER LISTS MAY BE SUBJECT TO CHANGE. SITALEKI AKAUOLA 17. INTERCHANGE

KEITH LULIA 18. INTERCHANGE

MICK POTTER COACH Saturday April 12, 2014 19


LINE-UP / TIGER TALK

YOUR HOLDEN CUP

WESTS TIGERS

MASON FARRELL 1. FULLBACK

TOM SATTERTHWAITE 2. WING

MARION SEVE 3. CENTRE

NATHAN MILONE (c) 4. CENTRE

MITCHELL MOSES 7. HALFBACK

DALLAS GRAHAM 8. PROP

MANAIA CHERRINGTON 9. HOOKER

LOKENI GAVET 10. PROP

MATTHEW WOODS 13. LOCK

FOSIO TATOLA 14. INTERCHANGE

JAKE DOONER 15. INTERCHANGE

TYLER CASSEL 16. INTERCHANGE

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TIGER TALK / OPPOSITION

JOHN OGDEN 5. WING

TE MAIRE MARTIN 6. FIVE-EIGHTH

1. Alex Grant 2. Hayden Crowley 3. Lenny Magey 4. Samsen O’Neill 5. Scott Schulte 6. Aaron Solari 7. Delayne Ashby 8. Jack Brock 9. Josh Chudleigh 10. David Munro 11. Jack Kelleher (c) 12. Bill Cullen 13. Andrew Niemoeller INTERCHANGE: 14. Dan Clarke 15. Corey Jensen 16. Michael Barclay 17. Coen Hess COACH: Todd Wilson

SALESI FUNAKI 11. SECOND ROW

LAMAR LIOLEVARE 12. SECOND ROW

* ILLNESS OR INJURY MEANS PLAYER LISTS MAY BE SUBJECT TO CHANGE.

ELI LEVIDO 17. INTERCHANGE

SIONE ALOFI 18. INTERCHANGE

ANDREW WEBSTER COACH Saturday April 12, 2014 21


CLUB INSIDER / TIGER TALK

Players are in safe hands By Scott Dougherty WHILE all eyes in the stadium are fixed on the performances of Wests Tigers players on game day, Peter Moussa’s focus is directed elsewhere. ‘‘The players’ welfare is paramount,’’ the club’s physiotherapist said. ‘‘My priority is treating and preventing the players’ injuries.’’ Regardless if the crowd is 80,000 or 8000 on game day, Moussa is only ever concerned about the health of the 17 players dressed in the white, black and orange. ‘‘It’s an enjoyable role but I

don’t get too much of a buzz running out on game days any more, I’m just focusing on the players,’’ he said. On game days, Moussa — pictured helping Liam Fulton from the field — wears the orange trainer’s shirt. His job is to keep an eye on player injuries, do on-field assessments and concussion tests. He said sometimes it was hard to convince a player they needed to be taken from the field. ‘‘With the concussion tests we follow the standard protocol and they have to

answer questions like ‘Where are you?’, ‘What’s the score?’ and ‘What was last week’s score?’ for example and do other things such as balance tests.’’ Moussa is also responsible for strapping Tigers players on game day and during the week at training. Throughout the week he addresses the niggling injuries of each player while also working with the long-term injured players.

‘‘Injuries are part and parcel of rugby league,’’ Moussa said. ‘‘We identify weak points in each player and try to prevent the injuries as best we can. I have great staff around me and I work very closely with [high performance manager] Luke Portese.’’ Moussa nominated Bodene Thompson and Braith Anasta as the quickest healers in the club.

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PUZZLES / TIGER TALK

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TIGER TALK/ PUZZLES

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TIGER TALK /HOLDEN CUP

By Dan Talintyre FOLLOWING their semi-finals exit from the competition last year, Wests Tigers’ NYC squad came into the 2014 season determined to consolidate and improve on last season. And with a new head coach in Andrew Webster mixed with plenty of promising players such as Mitchell Moses and Manaia Cherrington in the ranks, the prospect of a successful season was certainly on the cards. Yet despite a promising pre-season campaign that included strong wins over Penrith Panthers and the Cronulla Sharks, Wests Tigers NYC squad suffered a disappointing first-start loss to the St George Illawarra Dragons in Round 1. Dragons fullback Matthew Duffy was the star on the day with four tries as the hosts struggled to deal with the loss of Marion Seve before kick-off — conceding four tries in the final 20 minutes — to slump to a 46-14 defeat. The squad travelled to the Gold Coast the following week and, despite playing in scorching conditions above 40 degrees, bounced back with an impressive 34-4 victory over the Gold Coast Titans. New halves combination Mitchell Moses and Te Maire Martin allowed the visitors to dominate in attack, with second-rower Salesi Funaki grabbing a double in the dominant win. Their next task would be their toughest of the season so far — taking on an undefeated South Sydney Rabbitohs at ANZ Stadium — but off the back of another strong performance from Moses, Wests Tigers’ made it two wins in a row with a gritty 26-16 win. The young halfback set up three tries and scored one himself in the 10-point win, as his combination on the right edge with Marion Seve continued to cause havoc for their opponents. A trip across the Tasman followed for the young Wests Tigers, as they prepared to take on a physically dominant New Zealand Warriors side at Westpac Stadium. The hosts started the stronger of the two teams and stormed to a 12-0 lead . That didn’t deter the visitors, though as they hit back through their devastating right-edge combination Sione Alofi, Tom Satterthwaite and Seve to take a 24-20 lead heading into the final 10 minutes. Unfortunately, they would lose that lead late courtesy of a third try to Warriors forward Ki — going down 26-24 in front of a very vocal Wellington crowd. Last week saw the NYC squad bounce back with an impressive 36-16 victory, with Moses again the key factor in the big win. The halfback set up three tries and dictated the play perfectly in torrential rain to move the young Wests Tigers back up the NYC ladder into fifth position overall.

Cubs come out

firing

Saturday April 12, 2014 27


SOCIAL MEDIA / TIGER TALK

Great insights

into your club By Dan Talintyre WESTS Tigers continue to lead the way as one of the most active NRL clubs in social media, with strong interaction and engagement across various platforms. Our Facebook page is rapidly approaching 200,000 likes and continues to be the primary source for all club news and information, while our Twitter page — @Wests_Tigers — is close to reaching the 30,000 followers mark. Frequent interaction and involvement on Twitter has seen the club become one of the leading providers of game-day information, with extensive minute-byminute news and insights as well as behind-the-scenes content. The real-time nature of Twitter allows followers to receive news the moment that it becomes available and, in doing so, provides a real insight into the club and players. The Wests Tigers Instagram account — @nrl_weststigers — has quickly grown as one of the club’s leading social media accounts, with close to 7000 followers gained in a short period of time. Followers gain exclusive behind-the28

Saturday April 12, 2014

scenes visual content throughout the week, while ground-level access on game day has rapidly become one of the most popular insights the account provides. Wests Tigers Official Social Network — YuuZoo.com/weststigers — brings these platforms together and provides a medium where fans and members can discuss all club matters as well as follow their favourite players. The club is continuing to explore other social media platforms and has seen strong rises in their Google+ and Vine profiles over the past few months. The LinkedIn profile is also quickly becoming a popular channel for corporate-based opportunities by providing fans with exclusive offers and information. As social media continues to develop as an integral part of professional sport, Wests Tigers urge all of their fans and members to connect with the club for greater involvement and commitment. Two key promotions will be run across the platforms in the coming weeks, centred on the club’s 15th anniversary celebrations. First up will be voting on the club’s top 15 moments, and then fans will be asked to vote on their team of 15 years. Keep an eye out for all the details.


TIGER TALK / INJURY WARD

Injury news JAMES Tedesco will be sidelined for up to nine weeks with an ankle injury. But club medical staff are hopeful that with extensive rehabilitation, the time period will be reduced to six weeks. Tedesco suffered ligament damage in the Wests Tigers 34-18 victory over Manly at Leichhardt Oval last Sunday. He had arthroscopic surgery earlier in the week to investigate the injury further which found the ligament had become unstable. The 21-year-old underwent a procedure to stabilise the ligament on Tuesday. Between rounds 11 and 14, Wests Tigers are expecting to have Tedesco, Sauaso Sue (foot), Curtis Sironen (foot), Dene Halatau (ankle) and Tim Moltzen (knee) returning to the field from injury.

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MEMBER SPOTLIGHT / TIGER TALK

Nothing beats cheering on his team By Alicia Sylvester WESTS Tigers member Rory Semple loves his team so much it’s hard to choose a favourite player. ‘‘They’re all good, I’m more of a team guy,’’ he said. ‘‘You look forward to seeing guys like Luke Brooks come through and you look forward to that nice little dummy half running from Robbie Farah. ‘‘And when guys like [Marika] Koroibete blind it up the wing so fast, it’s terrific.’’ Rory describes a day at the footy as ‘‘the best part of the weekend’’. ‘‘It’s just that little bit of escapism,’’ he said. ‘‘You sit on the hill at Leichhardt or Campbelltown and it’s a relaxing afternoon with like-minded people.’’ But then there are those games that will go down in history — not only for the quality of football but for the conditions the players and fans braved. Rory’s best memory was from round 16 last year in which the Tigers beat Melbourne in torrential rain. ‘‘It was soaking wet and it didn’t matter to anyone,’’ he said. ‘‘Everyone was right behind the guys and it felt terrific because it was such a great supporter base. ‘‘And afterwards the players were clapping the spectators, saying ‘Thanks guys, thanks for hanging in there for us’. ‘‘And we’ve had a lot of nights like that where it’s been a hard game but there hasn’t been a single person leave the game. I like to cheer them on and bring them over the line and it’s good the guys appreciate it.’’

Rory Semple is hoping Wests Tigers finish in the top 4. ‘‘I know if they turn up and play, they’re a terribly hard team to beat.’’

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