Tiger cubs ready to roar under Taylor
They're barely out of their teens but new Wests Tigers coach Jason Taylor has entrusted his young playmakers with ownership of the team as a way to make good on their extraordinary potential.
Although the most senior member of the team, Pat Richards, iced their Round 1 victory over the Titans with a last-second field goal, the influence of the likes of Luke Brooks, Mitchell Moses and James Tedesco was significant.
The Tigers fielded eight players 22-years-of-age or younger against the Titans on Saturday night but rather than building in ready-made excuses regarding their potential, Taylor has demanded they step up to the mark and 21-year-old back-rower Curtis Sironen said it is a responsibility they have embraced.
"We want that sort of ownership, we don't want to be looked at as the young guys and use that as an excuse," Sironen told NRL.com.
"'JT' made a point about the fact that there aren't any excuses for us now and we're really enjoying it.
"We've been around with Patty [Richards] and Robbie [Farah] for a while now so it's just about putting it into play week in and week out and backing ourselves. Not being in there to make up the numbers or because we're the young talent or anything, it's actually being competitive."
Having given up an 18-12 lead with 10 minutes remaining, the Tigers showed wonderful composure to turn a Nate Myles error with 45 seconds to play into a match-winning field goal and Taylor praised the influence of his senior players on his young batch of footballers.
"They're young but they're not kids," was Taylor's firm assessment. "They're young men and they're really talented, but these guys beside me [Farah and Richards] are really important to the team.
"Aaron Woods, Dene Halatau, Chris Lawrence, those five are really leading well at the moment and that's what we want them to keep doing.
"The composure at the end was very impressive. As soon as the error was made, the boys packed the scrum really quickly. We didn't have to send a message out about that – sometimes you do – and then I was wondering whether we had time for one more hit-up. We took one more hit-up and we had just enough time... It was really well done."
Skipper Robbie Farah took control of proceedings when he returned from a spell with 30 minutes left to play and came up with a crucial 40/20 kick in the 58th minute that led to the Tigers' third try of the night.
While a one-point win over an under-manned Titans left plenty of room for improvement, Farah said the manner in which they finished the game will instil a great deal of belief for the long season ahead.
"[Composure] is something that we've spoken about and are continually working on," said Farah.
"There were things tonight that we weren't happy with but we'll take a lot out of it. It will hold us in good stead winning a game like that. A tough win like that, I think we'll learn a lot from it.
"With Jason coming in, we were never going to adapt to it straight away so it's pleasing to win a scrappy game like that knowing we've got a lot of improvement in us."