Tim Sheens remains committed as the head coach of Wests Tigers until the end of 2024, citing his role in shielding Benji Marshall from criticism directed at the club. After suffering a devastating 74-0 defeat against the Cowboys, the Tigers are eager to bounce back in their next match against Cronulla. However, Sheens believes it would be unwise to put too much pressure on Marshall by thrusting him into the coaching position amidst ongoing team rebuilding efforts.
Despite the challenging circumstances, the Tigers plan to continue introducing their up-and-coming players in the clash with Cronulla. Aitasi James, an impressive prop who is not even among the club’s top-30 squad, will showcase his remarkable offloading skills at CommBank Stadium.
When asked about his role in protecting Marshall from negative press, Sheens compared his approach to that of Canterbury with their coach Cameron Ciraldo. Sheens expressed his determination to steady the ship and move forward, acknowledging the team’s ongoing development and rebuilding process.
Sheens emphasised that he is not concerned about personal records or win percentages. Instead, he is focused on doing his best to fulfill his current responsibilities. Sheens assured that any signings made during his tenure are done with Marshall’s approval. He also acknowledged the significant role Marshall plays, underscoring their close working relationship.
Regarding the team’s recent performances, Sheens expressed satisfaction with the players’ efforts, excluding their blowout loss to the Cowboys and the defeat against Brisbane. Importantly, Sheens highlighted the impact of injuries to key members of the spine, including Luke Brooks, Api Koroisau, and Adam Doueihi. Additionally, some players struggled with illness leading up to the Cowboys game. Complicating matters, industrial action by airlines delayed the Tigers‘ return home.
Sheens expressed his excitement for the potential of Aitasi James, who spent time in the lower grades at Parramatta. James will replace the suspended Alex Twal and is expected to bring a different body shape and work rate to the team, along with exceptional offloading abilities, speed, and size.
Overall, Sheens expressed his commitment to leading the Tigers through their challenging phase and supporting Marshall amidst external pressures. He remains optimistic about the team’s progress and the potential impact of their young and talented players.