Wests Tigers coach Tim Sheens has no intention of taming wild-haired enforcer Daine Laurie but predicts it will be another 12 months before he gets the best out of his impressive rookie.
Laurie was in the thick of the action during Monday night’s 23-6 win over Parramatta, clashing repeatedly with Eels prop Fuifui Moimoi and earning the ire of referees Ben Cummins and Jason Robinson after sailing close to the wind with a number of big hits.
Despite conceding consecutive penalties, his defence seemed to rattle the home side but Sheens said today that the 25-year-old still had plenty to learn before he would be given more game time in the top grade.
“He’s still just learning how to play correctly in defence and positional play more than anything else,” Sheens told NRL.com.
“We’re slowly blooding him and we’re getting more value but he sometimes misses his position, moves up or doesn’t move up, moves across instead of coming up – there are lots of little things in his game he is still learning but that’s a process we are going through this year.
“He had his first full off-season with us last year, another one this year and after next year I think he will be a very good player.
“I’m comfortable that we’re going to get a good player there.”
Sheens admitted after Monday night’s win that Laurie’s impact for the Tigers this season sometimes came at a price with the opposition benefiting at times from his inexperience.
But he was quick to defend his young front-rower’s aggression, insisting it would play an important role in years to come.
“The aggression isn’t the issue – even though there have been a couple of penalties,” he said.
“Daine just has to learn how to play positionally.
“He is a rookie so it’s his education that is hurting us sometimes, not his aggression.
“I love the aggression.
“He runs hard and he goes full-on.
“Everything else will come.”
Despite scoring their first win in five games to keep their slim finals hopes alive, Sheens has a busy week ahead as the Tigers prepare to face high-flying Melbourne at Olympic Park.
And he reiterated his intention to speak with referees boss Robert Finch after viewing footage yesterday of the nine penalties his side conceded against Parramatta.
Of particular concern were the two penalties awarded against Laurie for high shots on Moimoi, which Sheens says wreaked of double standards.
“There didn’t seem to be much in it on the night and I still feel that having watched the replays,” he said.
“It was just two guys being aggressive.
“Daine goes in hard and he scares them I think – I made that comment the other night.
“Just because hair flies and blokes are aggressive [doesn’t mean it should be a penalty].
“Earlier on he jumped on Eric Grothe and Grothe jumped up and shoved him – he’s not allowed to do that.
“There was nothing in the tackle that Daine did wrong as far as the referee was concerned so Grothe isn’t allowed to get up and shove him.
“We’ve been penalised for things like that.
“If Daine had fallen over onto the ground it would have been a penalty but he’s not street-wise enough in the NRL to take a dive like that which some players will do.
“I mean, when the referee penalised Fui, even Daine said it wasn’t high!
“That’s a certain amount of naivety and honesty.”
In other news, Parramatta are currently in talks with promising young forward Jeremy Latimore in the hope of retaining his services beyond 2009.