Wests Tigers prop Russell Packer warns the NRL side is still in a rebuilding phase.The Wests Tigers’ staunch start to the NRL season has given hope for the future but Russell Packer warns the joint venture is still rebuilding.
Ivan Cleary’s Tigers have won plenty of admirers early in the season after gripping wins over the Sydney Roosters and Melbourne and a controversial golden-point defeat to Brisbane.
But before their clash with a desperate Parramatta on Monday, Tigers fans are being urged not to expect too much too soon.
While their 2-1 record might hint there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, they started with two wins and one loss every year from 2013 to 2016 and missed the finals each season.
Packer said they wouldn’t be the finished product this year but was enthusiastic about the steps they had taken.
“We’re still building,” Packer said.
“Regardless of the results, it’s a long-term strategy.
“We’re fortunate to have won our firs two games and had a close loss.
“The most pleasing thing about it’s the energy and the effort and the commitment that everybody in the squad’s putting in for each other.
“Regardless if we win or lose, those are the things you hang your hat on.”
While Packer might urge caution, he notes there are positive signs, in particular their defence, which has leaked just two tries in three games.
Their attack might not yet be up to scratch but in their defence they have been without five-eighth Josh Reynolds and hooker Jacob Liddle, and fullback Tui Lolohea has missed the past two weeks.
And with Luke Brooks the only member of their spine who was at the club last year, it will likely take time for them to find their feet.
“Defence was one of the things we worked on over the pre-season and I guess it’s come through over the first three rounds but we just need to be better at the end of the games,” Packer said.
“We had the opportunity to win it (against Brisbane) but it’s a good building block for our squad. You’d rather be working on your attack than working on your defence after three rounds.
“That’s the position we’re in and it’s a challenge we’ve got to keep meeting in terms of showing up for each other.”