Benji Marshall vows to play on after Wests Tigers exit; Wayne Bennett’s advice
Benji Marshall vows to play on after Wests Tigers exit; Wayne Bennett’s advice

‘It could ruin a team’: Tigers outrage over meeting leak

Wests Tigers players are upset details from a brutal honesty session were leaked to the media with star winger David Nofoaluma warning it had the potential to "ruin a team".

A candid Nofoaluma admitted the heated meeting had taken place but was disappointed details ended up in the news.

Reports following a crisis meeting on Monday between players and Michael Maguire revealed the group was walking on eggshells out of the fear of being dropped by the coach after one bad performance.

 

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David Nofoaluma was disappointed details of a meeting between the players and coach Michael Maguire were leaked to the media. Picture: Getty Images
David Nofoaluma was disappointed details of a meeting between the players and coach Michael Maguire were leaked to the media. Picture: Getty Images

The form winger warned leaking information had the potential to destroy trust within the playing group.

"For myself, I'm pretty disappointed that it even got out because that there can ruin teams," he said.

"For something like that to get out when it's an open and honest conversation among the playing group.

"It got out to the media what was said and it was the truth. That 'walking on eggshells', that came from within the group."

Nofoaluma said the powerhouse sides of the competition, like the Sydney Roosters, had a culture of keeping the ins and outs of the club in-house and that was one of the reasons they were so successful.

"That's what builds a strong club. Clubs at the top you never hear anything really coming out of their playing group. If something happens you don't hear of it. And I think that's why they're so successful, because they're so tight and rock solid with each other." he said.

 

Coach Michael Maguire talks to the team at training. Picture: Brett Costello
Coach Michael Maguire talks to the team at training. Picture: Brett Costello

 

Maguire, who won a premiership at South Sydney in 2014, arrived at Concord in 2019 with the mission of returning the club to finals football for the first time since 2011.

Maguire has been vocal about the need to replace mediocrity with a winning a culture at Concord.

To do that, Maguire has worked to instil a hard edge into a side famous for it's inconsistency and lack of resilience.

While the Tigers have shown glimpses of Maguire's handiwork, it hasn't been enough and the side, who are 11th on the ladder, are destined to miss out on the final yet again in 2020.

Nofoaluma conceded his side's inconsistency had damaged their finals chances but he also revealed the lack of job security had affected players performances.

Maguire has made a number of running changes to his top 17 including the axing of veteran Benji Marshall, demoting first choice halfback Luke Brooks to the bench and shuffling around his forward pack.

 

Tigers coach Michael Maguire is trying to instill a hard edge to the Wests Tigers. Picture: Brett Costello
Tigers coach Michael Maguire is trying to instill a hard edge to the Wests Tigers. Picture: Brett Costello

 

"We'd do well after players have been dropped or return from being dropped. We'd play a few good games and then fall straight back down," he said.

"I think that's a mindset of the players being a little bit worried about their job security. It would effect anyone."

Despite growing speculation Maguire is beginning to lose the support of the dressing room, forward Josh Aloiai insisted the coach was the right man to navigate the club through this difficult period.

"I believe so, 100 per cent. If you want to be one of the heavyweights of the competition then you need to buy into the process that Madge has given to us," he said.

The 24-year old credited Maguire for his career best from in season 2020.

"I'm having the best year of footy I have ever played in the NRL, this is my fifth year, and it's under Madge. He's taught me so much, he's helped me grow and that's what I'm going to keep doing and we all need to be doing that," Aloiai said.

 

 

Benji leans on Bennett after Tigers' savage cut

 

Benji Marshall has vowed to play on after a conversation with Wayne Bennett despite being squeezed out of his beloved Wests Tigers.

Marshall wants to continue his NRL career and had intended on finishing it off with the Tigers. But any thought of a fairytale farewell has been quashed after the Tigers officially told their 2005 premiership winner his time was up at season's end.

"I would've loved to have retired playing at the Wests Tigers but due to the club's decision (made on me) it's not going to be," Marshall said on NRL 360 on Tuesday night.

Benji Marshall during Wests Tigers training at Concord. Picture: Brett Costello
Benji Marshall during Wests Tigers training at Concord. Picture: Brett Costello

"I might have to play somewhere else if I want to keep playing. I'm not on a massive wage at the Tigers. I thought making a decision at the end of the year would've been fine because I'm not breaking the salary cap.

"The club has five halves on their books next year. I still feel like I have a lot to offer. There are a still things I want to do."

 

 

 

Marshall reached out to former Broncos coach Bennett on Tuesday when he realised his time with the Tigers was over. Bennett told him if he still has the fire to keep on playing, giving Marshall hope that he won't have to call time on his decorated career.

Manly could be an option for the 35-year-old while playing alongside brother Jeremy at Canterbury may be another path he could explore given the long-term injury to Bulldogs recruit Blake Green.

Marshall approached Tigers coach Michael Maguire on Monday after reports surfaced he would have to exit the club.

 

Benji Marshall sought advice from Wayne Bennett about his next move. Picture: Jono Searle
Benji Marshall sought advice from Wayne Bennett about his next move. Picture: Jono Searle

 

"Since playing under Michael he has always been honest with me," Marshall said. "When you hear about not being wanted by other sources not from the coach or club you want to find out if it's true or not. I went in and asked if it was true."

Maguire came back with the news 24 hours later that the second-most capped Tiger would have to leave. Marshall played down talk of discontent amongst the playing group despite some players being clearly agitated by Maguire's coaching style laying claims to the Tigers players having a 'soft underbelly'.

"We haven't reacted well to the whole season," Marshall said. "You can't blame the coach's actions on the way we've played. Everyone has to take accountability for that.

 

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"They will be searching for answers and they've started that with me not being there next year and there will probably be more to come. They need to be able to attract some bigger name players."

The Tigers are battling salary cap constraints. Next year they still have Josh Reynolds, Moses Mbye and Russell Packer on inflated deals while Luke Brooks is also struggling to live up to his price tag. Marshall said the team needs "to work out how to get better somehow".

Marshall made his debut for the Tigers in 2003 and was part of the club's only premiership win two years later. He was squeezed out of the club at the end of 2013 before a stint in rugby. He returned to the NRL with St George Illawarra in 20014 and spent a year at Brisbane before re-joining the Tigers in 2018.

 

Benji Marshall’s famous flick pass to Pat Richards in the Tigers’ 2005 grand final win. Picture: Channel Nine.
Benji Marshall’s famous flick pass to Pat Richards in the Tigers’ 2005 grand final win. Picture: Channel Nine.

 

Benji Marshall with the premiership trophy.
Benji Marshall with the premiership trophy.

 

Chief executive Justin Pascoe praised Marshall's time at the Tigers.

"Over the past two-and-a-half years, Benji has performed as we knew he would on field but the reality with our roster management is that he will not be with Wests Tigers next year," Pascoe said.

"Decisions around our playing roster are incredibly difficult ones to make, and this decision is not made lightly with the absolute respect this club has for Benji Marshall.

"Whatever Benji chooses to do in 2021 - whether that is playing football or not - will be up to him and I have no doubt he will be a success."

 

 

 

Originally published as 'It could ruin a team': Tigers outrage over meeting leak



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