Maguire breaks the mood at Tigers with fun

Wests Tigers coach Michael Maguire has gone off script at training in a bid to ignite his NRL team.
Wests Tigers coach Michael Maguire has gone off script at training in a bid to ignite his NRL team.

Wests Tigers coach Michael Maguire is known for his brutal training regimes, but with a must-win NRL game looming he made a drastic change to Tuesday's session - he introduced fun.

After three straight losses including a 44-4 defeat to Newcastle on Saturday, the Tigers can feel their grip on a finals berth slipping each week.

And after an old-fashioned honesty session on Monday where players and coaching staff hashed out shortcomings and reaffirmed their finals goals, a laugh was desperately needed.

For the first time this year Maguire ran a training session based around fun and games - they played baseball and touch footy - just to take the pressure off.

"It was good to do something a little bit off script, and I enjoyed it anyway," said prop Russell Packer.

"A lot of the boys in this squad are young and inexperienced and now that I'm a little bit older I can look back on times where I've been a part of teams that haven't had success and have been in holes, and lightening up is good.

"Everybody nowadays is super professional and it's good to apply yourself to the craft, but letting go of failure is hard for us as athletes and I think sometimes changing the stimulation can help people, because we're all different."

Packer, who made two errors in Tigers' loss to the Knights, said the honesty session was about taking personal responsibility for their mistakes.

Sitting 10th on the ladder going into the last seven rounds, the burden of the longest finals drought in the NRL is bearing down on them.

The message is clear - Sunday's match against Canterbury is a must-win.

And beyond that, Packer is adamant the team still has premiership credentials.

"I don't know anyone that plays professional rugby league that doesn't want to win a competition, and every year if you don't come with that goal in mind, maybe you're not in the right place. That's just how I feel," he said.

"I want to win every game I play. That's just how I feel going into a game Is that realistic? No? But that's how I feel.

"This team here, we have the capability if we do our jobs properly to compete with those teams and to give ourselves a chance of making the semi-finals and pushing forward into those big games.

"From my conversations, there's a belief here that we can do good things if we execute and if we play to our abilities.

"We haven't shown that in the last two weeks and our focus is singular on the Bulldogs - it's a huge game and a must-win game for this club."

Australian Associated Press