Tigers cubs a chip off the old Blocker
Wests Tigers elder statesman Braith Anasta has paid tribute to his engine room for the side's roaring start to the 2014 season.
After a disappointing season-opening loss to the Dragons, the Tigers have recorded impressive back-to-back victories against the Titans and Rabbitohs to sit in the top eight and breathe life into what was supposed to be a rebuilding campaign.
While young guns James Tedesco and Luke Brooks have grabbed all the headlines with their attacking brilliance, the veteran five-eighth said the grunt work undertaken by their under-rated forward pack has been the main catalyst for their play.
"The way they've been playing, they've pretty much hammered the Gold Coast and Souths packs two weeks in a row," Anasta said on Wednesday.
"It's good to have Keith [Galloway] back, Aaron Woods, [Martin] Taupau off the bench. These guys, they haven't got too much credit the last couple of weeks but I think they've really laid the platform for guys like Brooks and Tedesco."
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After their upset victory over the Rabbitohs, skipper Robbie Farah was openly frustrated by the lack of credit afforded to his side for their previous week's win over the Titans.
"I was disappointed we went up to Gold Coast last week and had a great win and everyone said how bad Gold Coast were. We got no credit for it," Farah said.
But Anasta said the Tigers were beginning to change people's perceptions about them as potential cellar-dwellers, beginning with a forward pack that has suddenly found its bite under forwards coach Steve Roach.
"It was really encouraging for us. I think our fans are loving it too because we haven't seen that [aggression] in a while out of the Tigers," he said.
"We've got to make sure we're consistent with that and we back it up this week and make sure it's not a one-off because we did play for the full 80 minutes. It was really physical and the boys really handled themselves well.
"Blocker's been great. Obviously he has a big input on the aggression and he's got a lot of experience, so he's helped us a lot.
"But I think it's just taking responsibility ourselves, trying to change our image, and trying to get some respect. I think we've lost a lot of that in the last year or two and we want it back."
The fifth-placed Tigers head to Wellington, New Zealand, the home town of interchange forward Ava Seumanufagai, to take on the Warriors on Sunday in what will be another test against a formidable forward pack.
Tigers prop Jesse Sue said his Wellington-born teammate epitomised the development of the forward pack as a whole this year.
"Last year, at the beginning of the year, he wasn't aggressive. The season went on and he became more aggressive. That built his confidence," Sue said.
"We made a pact, the leadership group really pushed us and moulded us into how we played last week. We came up with some goals, and that's pretty much sunk into everyone's heads."