Chee Kam spies opportunity in youth
Wests Tigers recruit Michael Chee Kam says while there was disappointment about being moved on from Manly, his new club's youthful roster presents an opportunity both for himself in the short term and the club in the long term.
After Chee Kam was told (via his manager Stan Martin) he would not be offered a new deal at the northern beaches club, he figured his chances of adding to his sole NRL appearance in 2014 were slim.
However he ended up getting the call up for four more games in the last six weeks of the season and that surprise stint in the top grade has boosted his confidence ahead of his arrival at Concord, where a host of fresh faces have him positive about the season ahead.
Chee Kam said his manager's advice was Jason Taylor's young squad would provide him with a good chance of tasting first grade in 2016.
"He asked if I wanted to come to the Tigers; he thought it'd be a good opportunity for me with a young squad and he saw a lot of opportunity for me to try and crack a regular first grade spot," Chee Kam told NRL.com.
Chee Kam had his first two seasons out of the NYC – in 2013-14 – ruined by injury; 2015 say him follow a full pre-season with a full playing season (mostly in the NSW Cup with Manly) for the first time.
While that only added to his disappointment in being moved on from Manly before being given a serious crack, he believes that consistency of fitness and his brief stint in the top grade will stand him in good stead.
"It was obviously disappointing [to get moved on]; that was before I played those couple of games at the back end of the year so I was disappointed I didn't really get a chance to fully show that I could play at that level these last couple of years with all the injuries and stuff," he said.
"I didn't think they were going to give me those games that I played at the end after they told me that, so I was pretty happy with those couple of games that I got.
"I used that to build my confidence and get some experience playing at the top level. It got me some confidence back so I could bring that here to the Tigers."
Chee Kam was able to laugh off his previous injury dramas, while setting his goals to be one of the club's fittest over the pre-season before hopefully cementing a first grade spot and proving to the Tigers hierarchy that he is worthy of a contract extension beyond his current one-year deal.
"Yeah last year I didn't miss any games, mostly played in NSW Cup so I don't really think about injuries too much anymore. I'm sweet now!" he said.
"I was always pride myself in pre-season to try and be as fit as I can and try and be in the front group whenever I can.
"Last year was my first full pre season and I played the whole year so I reckon if you have a good pre-season that will help you through the whole year.
"[My current deal] is only one year but for sure I'm looking to extend so I want to do the best I can, put my best foot forward in anything I do like training. Hopefully when the games come I can show the right people that I want to stay here and extend."
Chee Kam praised both the coaching staff and young exciting talent – notably young playmaking trio of halfback Luke Brooks, five-eighth Mitch Moses and fullback James Tedesco – at Concord.
"The coaching staff here have been great. They're all easy to talk to, 'JT' [Jason Taylor] calls us in for one on one meetings probably every week. It's good to get feedback on what we need to do and stuff. If we're down on something at training he looks at that and always talks to us. I just need to work on some little things defensively and stuff like that," he said.
"It's pretty exciting, they're all great talents here who can do freakish things on the field. It's exciting times for the club and I hope I get to be a part of what's going to come."