Besieged Wests Tigers coach Michael Maguire has insisted his club needs to play the long game after they slumped to a 30-6 flogging from Cronulla and the worst losing streak in the joint-venture’s history.
Without a win in the opening five games, the Tigers were poor in almost every facet on Sunday with Maguire admitting afterwards their effort was at times a concern.
Without a win over the opening five rounds, the Tigers have now recorded their worst ever start to a season while their losing streak of eight dates back to last August.
While they were close in recent losses to both the Warriors and Gold Coast, there was little to like about the Tigers’ output on Sunday afternoon.
Maguire’s men missed 29 tackles and failed to break the Sharks’ line once, with their only try coming from a Ken Maumalo intercept in the last minute.
Maguire was under pressure to keep his job after last year, having presided over the last three of the Tigers’ 10 straight seasons out of the finals.
That pressure is now only set to intensify further, with the Tigers’ run ahead including games against Parramatta and South Sydney in the next fortnight.
But Maguire insisted things were on the up for the club despite concerns from ever-tiring fans.
“Of course, every fan wants to win. We all want to win,” Maguire said.
“But you just can’t wave a magic wand when you have to change a few things in an organisation. It’s about looking at all the smaller areas.
“There are so many good things going on at our club from juniors upwards. But it takes time.
“We haven’t been able to do those things in the past. And that plays a big part in being able to establish yourself that sit at the top.”
Maguire also refuted a suggestion from Andrew Johns in Nine’s commentary that his team were still yet to hit rock bottom, seeing hope in the return of Jackson Hastings next week.
“I disagree (with Johns),” Maguire said.
“He is able to have his comments. But what I see is what is going on in internally.
“I have been able to see what it looks like at a number of organisations. And the commitment of the players every week have really turned up.”
After losing fullback Daine Laurie to COVID and James Roberts to a back injury before play, the Tigers were regularly stripped for numbers on the edges.
Cronulla’s first try came when stand-in Tigers fullback Starford To’a dropped a Nicho Hynes bomb, while Jesse Ramien and Sione Katoa three times ran through the Tigers’ flimsy left.
Katoa bagged a double and Ramien one, as Nicho Hynes and Matt Moylan regularly linked up as the Sharks bagged four straight wins for the first time since 2018.
And in truth, it could have been worse for the Tigers if the Sharks had taken all their chances as they completed at only 67 per cent and let at least three tries go begging.
“There is a balance between playing the style of football we want to play and also reigning it in and getting to the end of our sets,” Sharks coach Craig Fitzgibbon said.
“It’s a tough balance, because I don’t want them to stop playing either.”