The good news is the football is back, the better news is Wests Tigers fans might just have plenty to cheer about in 2019.
At Belmore Sports Ground this afternoon a crowd of a couple of hundred people braved Sydney’s wet weather for a mostly entertaining trial match between the Western Suburbs Magpies (Wests Tigers feeder team) and the Canterbury Bulldogs.
The sun was out and so were some experienced NRL players in the black and white (black and gold in the second half), including; Chris McQueen, Jacob Liddle, Mahe Fonua, Robbie Rochow, Josh Aloiai, Thomas Mikaele and Luke Garner.
Under the watchful eye of new coach Michael Maguire, each of those players accounted quite well for themselves.
But it was team skipper Chris McQueen, reuniting with his former Souths boss and now in his second year with the Tigers, that looked the sharpest in the 18-6 victory.
Extremely vocal on the field, and leading from the front, McQueen looked a lot more comfortable and confident than what we witnessed from the former origin player in 2018.
Mikaele, a young prop carrying the weight of some hefty wraps, looks set to be an NRL player, the only question being when, not if.
While Jacob Liddle, with Robbie Farah looking on from the stands, looked solid and showed some touches of class, including a quick dash out of dummy-half that saw the up and coming hooker crash over for an impressive solo try.
Running into a stiff breeze in the first half the Tigers/Magpies always looked a step ahead of the Bulldogs who made some fundamental errors, including kicking the ball dead off the kick-off.
Perhaps the best try ofthe game came in the second quarter though when Magpie winger Tommy Talau crossed outwide following some nice touches by Tyson Gamble and Jock Madden.
A later try-scoring opportunity for the Bulldogs was snuffed out by an impressive tackle made by the winger towards the end of the game.
Other players that accounted well for themselves in the trial included rookie fullback, Dylan Smith, lanky winger Kane Bradley and Madden, a player that looks to have a bright future ahead.
Mahe Fonua, aside from a couple of early drops, looked fit and ready to go – will he see NRL in round one remains to be seen.
What would have made Michael Maguire most happy?
- The performance of McQueen and Liddle
- The fact the Bulldogs made only one break (late in the game)
- Attitude in defence (even when game was wrapped up)
We’ll talk more about the game in the next Wests Tigers Podcast which will drop early next week.