Halatau pleased by Tigers' clean slate
With confirmation Robbie Farah will remain at Wests Tigers in first grade and the club buoyed by the appointment of Aaron Woods as their new skipper, veteran vice-captain Dene Halatau is ready to move forward.
Named alongside Chris Lawrence as the Tigers' new vice-captains last Friday, a relieved Halatau spoke of his annoyance over the club being dragged through the mud over the past four months.
A member of the Tigers' 2005 premiership-winning team, Halatau said pre-season has been business as usual for the squad but it hasn't stopped the naysayers approaching him away from the training paddock.
"When you come back into pre-season with a young squad, it's been more a process for us of doing the physical and the footy stuff right so all the other drama gets pushed aside naturally," Halatau said.
"It was still being talked about though by people you bump into on the street and that does get a bit frustrating but 'JT' (coach Jason Taylor), Justin (CEO Justin Pascoe), and Robbie – those guys worked really well to nut out what they had to.
"You never like to see a club that you care about have negative press. It is part and parcel with being in the NRL, you're going to be scrutinised at times. But everyone has worked hard to get through it and everyone is pretty comfortable that we'll push on."
Of Woods's appointment as captain, Halatau couldn't be any happier for the 24-year-old New South Wales and Australia representative.
Assuring reporters it was very much popular opinion within the seven-man leadership group to appoint Woods as skipper, Halatau said the prop was a man mature beyond his years.
"There were no questions [about Woods being named captain], we spoke about it in the leadership group and how we thought it would look, and having everyone suggest 'Woodsy' would be the logical choice," Halatau said.
"I met him first as a 16, 17-year-old kid. As much as a larrikin as he is, 'Woodsy' has always had an older head on his shoulders.
"He's a leader at training; he's a leader amongst the boys and he leads when he plays footy. It could be a long future for him as captain."
Halatau also said the seven-man leadership group was ideal for a club chockfull of youth – with he, Lawrence, Woods and Farah joined by fullback James Tedesco, forward Sauaso Sue and recruit Matt Ballin in the group.
"Seven's a good number, and there's no reason why these other guys won't be brought in at different times," Halatau said.
"As we do have a young side, we kind of want to drive leadership amongst the group.
"We don't want a few guys over here leading the rest of us – we want it to be that everyone is driving each other along."