Sport Wests Tigers are genuine NRL premiership contenders, says Queensland Origin coach Kevin Walters

05:26  16 april  2018
05:26  16 april  2018 Source:   sportingnews.com

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However, coach Kevin Walters was reluctant to rank the Melbourne Storm two-time premiership winner compared with other Queensland No.1 greats like Gary He also missed Origin I at the MCG on June 6. Walters has no qualms about Slater's fitness or finesse since he's not played since May 19.

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The high-flying Wests Tigers are the real deal according to Queensland State of Origin coach Kevin Walters.

The surprise packet of the 2018 NRL season so far, the Tigers are fourth on the ladder with five wins from six games.

Ivan Cleary's side earned a 38-12 demolition of Manly on Sunday to consolidate their place in the top quarter of the ladder.

The side, which many pundits predicted would be wooden spoon contenders, are equal on points with the Panthers and Warriors.

Speaking on The Big Sports Breakfast on Monday morning, Walters said it was time to start taking the Tigers seriously as a premiership threat.

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"Normally after six rounds, you get a good judge of what's happening in the competition," he said.

"I believe they are the real deal. I've watched them play pretty closely the last couple of weeks.

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With a little more than a week until teams are named for the Holden State of Origin series opener and Queensland hit by injury and retirements, NRL .com Stats analyses the contenders in Possibly the most hotly contested spot in the Maroons side with a number of genuine standouts vying for one spot.

"They're just keeping it really simple, and again yesterday, they scored some good tries - some really good tries.

"They've got some simple plans, they've got some good go-forward, some really good halves and a really good fullback - he's only a young player, but he's doing all the right things.

"Speed on the flanks is the key to a good, successful footy side as well, and they can score length of the field tries.

"It's a big thing in the game today and they've got enough speed out wide to do that.

"They're the real deal, I believe, and if they continue to perform the way they do, they've got every right to claim they're the real deal."

Walters, who played for the Broncos and was, until recently, Brisbane's assistant coach, even admitted the Tigers should have beaten his old side.

Wests were robbed of a win due to a controversial late penalty.

"They should be (undefeated), the loss against the Broncos, that was a bit of an indifferent call against them," Walters said.

"But they'll give it back to them down the track. They'll be sitting nicely where they are and it's a direct result of their commitment and their attitude towards their football."

Walters left the Broncos early in April to focus on Queensland's State of Origin campaign.

The Tigers will be looking to carry their round six form into next week's match with the Knights in Tamworth.

Knights' Ponga ready for Origin: Brown .
Newcastle coach Nathan Brown believes Kalyn Ponga's fitness and endurance will hold him in good stead if he makes his State of Origin debut this year. The calls for the 20-year-old to be picked in Queensland's squad are growing louder despite him playing only 15 NRL games.Ponga has been a revelation since his high-profile switch to the Knights from North Queensland, exhibiting the talent that made him so highly sought after.NSW coach Brad Fittler is expecting Ponga to be selected by Maroons coach Kevin Walters, likely in a bench role for the series opener at the MCG on June 6.

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