AFTER a terrible run at Leichhardt Oval last year, the Wests Tigers are confident they can buck the trend and get a win against Manly in their first outing there on Monday.
The side won one-from-four at Leichhardt last year — a win against Melbourne the shining light between three losses (to Canberra, Gold Coast, and Penrith).
But the club’s skipper Aaron Woods says he lives for playing at his childhood home-ground and said that if the fans get down to support that his Tigers will give them a great match to watch.
“Leichhardt games are the ones I love, so I can’t wait for it,” Woods said. “We always get loads of support and it’s where I grew up, so I can’t wait to play there again, and I know the boys feel the same way.”
Woods isn’t the only player who is looking forward to playing on the traditional ground, and club newcomer Tim Grant said he’s been looking forward to it since he signed with the Wests Tigers.
“The boys have all told me how great it is to run out at Leichhardt as a Tiger,” the 27-year-old said. “They’ve said it’s something you’ve got to experience.
MANLY HAS A POOR RECORD AT LEICHHARDT
ONE thing that stands in the home-side’s favour is that Manly have a pretty poor record at Leichhardt Oval, having lost four of their five games against the Wests Tigers there.
It’s been a while since the two sides clashed there though, with the home side winning 34-16 in the last clash in round 5 back in 2014
Sauaso Sue, who is part of the 2016 Wests’ leadership group, said there’s a “good vibe around the group” and that extra motivation for the game would come fromfacing former Tiger Martin Taupau.
“Playing against Marty should be good,” he said. “I think he’ll be good for Manly, and it will be a really good clash.
“Playing at Leichhardt is one of the best places to play, and we’ll get a good crowd and it’s always a good atmosphere.”
The Sea Eagles will be out for blood, after dropping their opening match 28-6 to the Bulldogs at Brookvale Oval.
CROWD MUST SHOW UP
Any home-ground advantage Tigers may have from playing at Leichhardt will be negated if fans don’t turn up on a Monday night to watch the game.
Tigers’ coach Jason Taylor said he thought his side was helped immensely by the crowd-support in round one at Campbelltown, and he hoped for a good crowd at Leichhardt.
“We’d love to see support like we had (at Campbelltown) again (at Leichhardt),” he said.
Round one star Mitchell Moses agrees with his coach about crowd-support, and said that the crowd at Campbelltown in round one helped his team to a win.
“The crowd was enormous on the weekend (against Warriors at Campbelltown), even when the game was in the balance, the crowd really helped us to stay confident and stay focused and keep us in the game,” Moses said.
“Hopefully we’ll get an even bigger crowd at Leichhardt, and hopefully that hill is packed out, and hopefully we’ll get to play in front of that.
“I always love playing at Leichhardt — it’s one of my favourite places to play at.
“We came in with new style of play this year and (against Warriors) we finally pulled off a few things we’ve been working on — and it came off for us — hopefully we can do the same against Manly on Monday.”
His team mate Curtis Sironen, who managed a try in round one, said he hoped the Monday night scheduling wouldn’t deter people from venturing down to Leichhardt.
“The crowd was massive on Saturday (at Campbelltown), especially that first half,” he said.
“Just the atmosphere (in round one) was awesome, and everyone was up out of their chairs and fired up, and if we can get half of that atmosphere at Leichhardt on Monday it’ll be exciting.
“I think the last time we played Manly at Leichhardt we had a big crowd and we won, so even though it’s Monday, we’re hoping to get a big crowd there, and the boys are excited to play there.”
OVERCOMING THE KAPOW FACTOR
Manly’s latest recruit (former Wests Tiger player) Marty Taupau knows all about playing in front of a big crowd at Leichhardt, and round one tryscorer Kyle Lovett said he thought Taupaui would be one to watch on Monday.
“We’re stoked to have two home games to start the season — Campbelltown and now Leichhardt — last week’s crowd was awesome, and the crowd really helped us over the line, and we’d love to see them all out at Leichhardt this week,” he said. “It helps having everyone there to support us.
“I think Manly will be raring to go. They’ve got a lot of good players — like Marty (Taupau) — and he will be raring to go — so it will be good to get a game against them.
“All the boys are excited to be playing them, and it’ll be good if we can get another win.”