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Wests Tigers inducted a new celebrity supporter into the club at Concord Oval on Monday, January 19, in Tampa Bay Rays baseball pitcher Grant Balfour.<br>&nbsp;<br>Balfour received a special invitation to attend Wests Tigers headquarters to meet the players and be taken on a tour of the training facilities.<br>&nbsp;<br>Raised in Kings Langley, 31-year-old Balfour is a passionate Wests Tigers supporter after growing up following the Balmain Tigers. His father played for Balmain.<br>&nbsp;<br>Balfour last week re-signed for 2009 for the Rays for $2.1 million (Aus).<br>&nbsp;<br>Tampa Bay Rays are the 2008 American League Baseball champions who made it through to the World Series. <br>&nbsp;<br>Philadelphia beat the Rays in five games with Balfour pitching in the World Series.<br>&nbsp;<br>Balfour was joined in his visit by fiancé Angie, Major League Baseball Road Show/Operations Manager Chris Meti, and NSW Baseball Development Manager Tim Harradin.<br>&nbsp;<br>As part of the visit, a baseball diamond was set up on Concord Oval with Balfour throwing down some pitches at a reasonable pace against some very keen Wests Tigers players in their break from training.<br>&nbsp;<br>Prop Todd Payten, second-rower Chris Heighington, winger Beau Ryan, and halves Benji Marshall and Tim Moltzen made some impressive hits with the bat.<br>&nbsp;<br>Hooker and captain Robbie Farah put on the catcher's uniform while the likes of forwards Corey Payne and Gareth Ellis took to the outfield.<br>&nbsp;<br>There were plenty of laughs in between a few balls finding their way into the grandstand.<br>&nbsp;<br>Farah later presented Balfour with a Wests Tigers jersey and other merchandise and officially welcomed him to the club.<br>&nbsp;<br>Balfour returned the favour by presenting Wests Tigers with one of his Tampa Bay jerseys. He then signed countless Wilson baseballs for the players and staff.<br>&nbsp;<br>"It was an awesome experience. I had a great time,'' Balfour said.<br>&nbsp;<br>"Even though I didn't really play rugby league that much growing up, as baseball was my game, I still have a huge passion and love for the game. I have a big appreciation for what these players do out on the field.<br>&nbsp;<br>"To come and meet the Wests Tigers face to face was awesome.<br>&nbsp;<br>"I have been around professional baseball for a little while and when you come back here and see how down to earth the Wests Tigers players are, that's what makes it so special.<br>&nbsp;<br>"I thought the players did really well. A few of them put me out so I have a bit of work to do before spring training.<br>&nbsp;<br>"One of them (Tim Moltzen) nearly cleaned me up."<br>&nbsp;<br>Farah said the players enjoyed the experience and the chance to learn more about American baseball.<br>&nbsp;<br>"Grant was telling me that his pitches get up to around 160 kph,'' Farah said.<br>&nbsp;<br>"These guys are playing every day, something like 160 games a year, so they are definitely good at what they do. It is a tough sport.<br>&nbsp;<br>"We all enjoyed having Grant at the club and will definitely be following his progress.''<br>&nbsp;<br>Balfour now joins the likes of Dawn Fraser, Michael Clarke, Anthony Field, Jimmy Barnes, Vic Darchinyan, Mark Schwarzer, Alex Lloyd and Russell Arnold as celebrity Wests Tigers supporters.
Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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