June 25, 2024

Wests Tigers’ new head coach, Benji Marshall, has now addressed the decision to part ways with his ex-teammate David Nofoaluma and has also shed light on the player set to replace Luke Brooks before Jarome Luai’s arrival.

The Tigers made the decision to release experienced winger Nofoaluma from the remaining two years of his contract following a series of conflicts during the off-season with the team’s new coach, Marshall. This move followed Nofoaluma receiving a second breach notice within a month, the first being for arriving late to an official pre-season training session, prompting the Tigers to take decisive action.

Marshall recently engaged in an extensive Q&A session with Brent Read from The Daily Telegraph, discussing various aspects on the eve of the season. He delved into the Nofoaluma situation and shared insights on the significant acquisition of Jarome Luai.

Reflecting on Nofoaluma’s departure, Marshall acknowledged the player’s contributions to the club, emphasizing his role as the all-time leading try-scorer for the Tigers. Despite the shared history, both parties agreed that a fresh start was in Nofoaluma’s best interest, and Marshall extended well wishes for his future endeavors.

In a noteworthy move, Marshall successfully secured the signing of Jarome Luai, a three-time premiership winner, from the Panthers. Luai committed to a five-year deal with the Tigers, commencing in 2025.

However, the discussions about the rookie coach Jarome Luai won’t take place within the confines of his club this year. Marshall emphasized that such talks would be deemed “disrespectful” to the current players on the team. Despite acknowledging Luai’s significance in the future plans of the club, Marshall emphasized the need to focus on the present with the players currently part of the team.

Marshall emphasized the importance of focusing on the present and controlling what can be controlled in the current season. Drawing from his experience, particularly as an assistant coach last year, he highlighted the detrimental impact of lacking depth in the halves throughout the season.

While recognizing the positive aspects of having depth and competition for positions, Marshall’s immediate priority is winning in the current season. He stressed that Jarome Luai’s arrival is part of a long-term plan, but his primary concern is achieving success in the here and now. Marshall’s perspective is rooted in his competitive mindset from his playing days, where winning each year took precedence over long-term plans. Whether the team is considered favorites or underdogs, Marshall believes that the focus should be on the immediate goal of winning in the present.

Benji Marshall of Wests Tigers. Getty

Marshall expressed his desire for a team that exhibits competitiveness on every play and has a relentless drive to win every game. While acknowledging Jarome Luai as a significant signing for the club’s future, Marshall asserted that discussions about Luai won’t be entertained during the current season. He emphasized the importance of avoiding any disrespect to the current players and to Luai’s former team, Penrith.

Additionally, Marshall underlined his openness to providing opportunities for younger players, citing Lachie Galvin as a potential candidate for the halves position, possibly starting the season. Marshall’s approach reflects the belief that in rugby league, if a player is talented enough, their age should not be a barrier to earning a spot in the team.

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