Maguire dampens expectations on Tigers breaking finals drought

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Wests Tigers fans hoping the club will end the NRL’s longest finals drought won’t be happy to hear coach Michael Maguire has tempered expectations for 2022 by saying it will take time before the club achieves sustained success.

After a disappointing 13th-placed finish last season, the Tigers have again made changes to their roster in a bid to turn their fortunes around and there was an internal review into Maguire’s tenure at the end of the campaign, which he survived after plenty of speculation that he would get the axe.

They had a disruption to their pre-season due to a COVID-19 case in the club – Maguire on SEN Radio on Tuesday morning revealed their pre-season preparations had to be paused for a week due to a positive test result but said they would pick up where they left off on Wednesday.

He said the recent arrival of Tim Sheens had been a massive benefit to the club as they try to expand the club’s junior pathways and make the most of their new state-of-the-art Centre of Excellence when it’s fully functioning in April.

But when it came to their prospects for 2022, Maguire was guarded about predicting the Tigers would break their finals drought which extends way back to 2011.

“You’ll see us improve every day. We want to make sure that we get everything we can out of every single day at training. I’m not going to put an expectation on it,” Maguire said when asked what a pass mark would be for 2022.

“It’s about us as a coaching group, playing group and organisation to get the best out of our players every day and let the results do the talking.”

Many NRL observers thought the Tigers would terminate Maguire’s contract two years early when they finished the season with a woeful performance in a 38-0 drubbing at the hands of wooden spooners Canterbury but the premiership-winning coach is adamant he can make the club strong in the long term.

“It’s part of the job, the external noise but I’ve always been focused on what I needed to do with the club and I’ve been able to develop this group of players now over a period of time and develop them into the style we’d like to play,” he said.

“The solid fans have been really good, to be honest. Everywhere I go, they talk about the club and love the club.

“Obviously we all want to be successful and no more than everyone at the club wants to make sure that we get us up the top but it just takes a bit of time with the circumstances of where you’re at with the club ,” he offered.

“We are building a really solid group of players and those boys, the longer they’re together the stronger the club’s gonna get. Over time, we will get to where we want to get to.”

The Tigers have a tough start to the new season at home to competition co-favourites Melbourne at CommBank Stadium in round one before travelling to Newcastle, hosting the Warriors at Campbelltown, then making trips to Gold Coast and Cronulla.

Maguire said five-eighth Adam Doueihi would not be pushed into an early return from his ACL tear and is looking at coming back around the round 10 mark.

He said new recruit Jackson Hastings had started to develop a strong halves combination with Luke Brooks at training, easing any pressure to rush Doueihi back.

Along with Hastings after his Super League stint with Wigan, they have added Titans utility Tyrone Peachey and Maguire was intrigued by rugby union convert Junior Tupou.

The Tigers have lost plenty of experience with Moses Mbye joining St George Illawarra, Joey Leilua being released despite the club having an option on his services for next year, Michael Chee Kam switching to Souths and Russell Packer retiring.

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