Tigers coach Tim Sheens addresses Api Koroisau confusion following Round 1 defeat

Tim Sheens has explained the confusion surrounding Api Koroisau, with the Wests Tigers suffering a disappointing Round 1 loss to the Titans on Sunday night.

After signing several notable players during the offseason and adding a new coaching duo in Sheens and Benji Marshall, there was plenty of optimism for Tigers fans for 2023.

But in a stark wake-up call, Gold Coast entered the Leichhardt Oval and spoiled the party with a 22-10 win while the likes of AJ Brimson and David Fifita starred for the visitors.

Star recruit Koroisau came off the bench and played less than 50 minutes for the Tigers, prompting many question marks from fans and pundits alike.

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Speaking to media after the game, Sheens claims the truncated offseason and lack of game fitness led to Koroisau’s reduced role – but he hasn’t committed to plans for the representative hooker’s future.

“Let me start to get over this before I start thinking about it [next week],” he said.

“Joe [Ofahengaue] hasn’t played a game and neither has Api… both are recovering from injury. Jake played two games and then we set up Api, so did Joe.

“[It is] Pre-season and tough football…especially the guys who came back and didn’t have much pre-season. Api is one of them – no excuses for him.

“But some guys started on November 2nd and others well into January. It took a bit of getting api into our system and making sure our halves are on the same page and we’ve had a bit of success and a bit of clunkiness with that.

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“We didn’t throw it in — if the effort isn’t there, I’d be concerned.”

Wests were chunky and made some costly mistakes in the 12-point loss but will be able to take some tough lessons going forward.

Rugby league great and future immortals Cameron Smith was one of many confused by the decision to bench the Tigers captain in the opening round.

“They made Api captain and he’s a big buy in the off-season,” he said SEN 1170 Breakfast.

“He’s the top nine at the football club, I don’t understand why he doesn’t just start the game. Give yourself the best opportunity to start well and potentially score points early.

“It’s like they tried to replicate what the Panthers did last year and especially in the Finals. The thing is though, it’s a completely different setup… Api doesn’t have the same staff around him at the Tigers as he did at Penrith.

“It’s very strange and I would expect him to continue running this week.”

In a welcome boost, the Tigers should welcome England second rower John Bateman in the coming weeks, but Sheens is in no hurry with another of his fresh faces.

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“I’m not going to commit too much to that – John just landed, he’s settling in, still doesn’t know the players,” he said.

“I’m not going to push him if we think he’s not ready. If it had been a grand final this week he would have played, let’s put it that way.

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“We’ve invested in him four years and I’m not going to ruin the opportunity prematurely by pushing him through because we lost a game.”

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