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NRL: Tigers need to answer critics

The pressure is already on the Wests Tigers and they are in need of a win when they take on the Newcastle Knights on Sunday, while the Dragons also entertain the Titans.

There has been plenty of change at the Tigers with new players and a new coach coming in but it was the same old on the pitch as they suffered a 22-10 home defeat against the Titans in week one.

They are in the spotlight again when they take on a Newcastle side that also lost their opening game against the Warriors. There is a huge amount at stake already for these two sides. Neither can really afford to lose, but of course one will. You must feel for Tim Sheens and Adam O’Brien heading into this one.

Later in the day it is the turn of the Dragons, who will be playing their first game of the season when they entertain the Titans. They missed out due to the bye and will have used the time to prepare for this game.

If anyone needs a result it is Dragons coach Anthony Griffin who is under pressure before a game has even been played. Let’s take a closer look at Sunday’s action.

What:Wests Tigers v Newcastle Knights
Where:Leichhardt Oval, Sydney
When:16:05 (AEST) Sunday 12th March 2023
How to watch:Channel 9, Kayo, Foxtel
Odds:Tigers 1.68, Knights 2.20

The Tigers are already in the spotlight following a 22-10 loss to the Gold Coast Titans in week one. Tim Sheens is back at the helm, with Benji Marshall working under him, but it was the decision to leave Api Koroisau out of the side that caused the biggest stir.

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Sheens claimed that the former Penrith ace was not fit enough to start and it will be interesting to see if one of the best players in the competition in 2022 gets the nod this week. As things stand he has been named to start at No.13. The Knights are also a side under pressure following a disappoint 2022 and bigger and better things are expected of them in the season ahead.

However it did not start well with the loss to the Warriors in week one and coach Adam O’Brien is in need of a big result to take the pressure off. An interesting sub-plot here is the fact that Jackson Hastings will be in the Knights side following his off-season switch from the Tigers.

That deal also saw David Klemmer move the other way and he will also line up for the Tigers against his former club. It could make things extra spicy out there on the pitch. Newcastle are also boosted by the return of Dane Gagai who will play at centre, while Kalyn Ponga will continue at five-eighth with Lachlan Miller playing fullback.

For the Tigers Junior Tupou is included among the reserves along with Brandon Tumeth and Justin Matamua.

What:St George Illawarra Dragons v Gold Coast Titans
Where:Netstrata Jubilee Stadium, Sydney
When:18:15 (AEST) Sunday 12th March 2023
How to watch:Kayo, Foxtel
Odds:Dragons 1.91, Titans 1.91

The Dragons had a very disappointing pre-season and were probably delighted to have the bye in the first week to allow them some extra time to get their house in order. The Red V need to get the season off to a strong start to silence the critics and they will also be happy to be on home soil for the opener.

However the Titans won on the road against Wests Tigers last week and will be confident of doing the same again on Sunday. Both sides missed final last season, indeed the Dragons have not been in the eight for the last four seasons, so the pressure is really on.

There is mixed news on the injury front for Griffin as Jack Bird has recovered from a knee injury and is set to start at lock. However Jack de Belin remains out with a calf injury. As always Ben Hunt will be huge for the Dragons and he will play alongside Jayden Sullivan in the halves, with Moses Mbye playing at No.9.

The Gold Coast Titans have had a great week. Not only did they see off the Tigers but star forward David Fifita then pledged his future to the club by penning a new deal. So spirits could not be higher heading into the game. Kieran Foran helped feed Fifita in the win over the Tigers and the Titans will be delighted he only suffered a severe cork last week. It was feared the injury could be much worse.

However Foran has been named to play at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium. The Titans have also been boosted by Toby Sexton being named in the reserves.

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