Tim Sheens believes there are plenty of cracks in the Canterbury armour despite an 11-game NRL winning streak and says star fullback Ben Barba “is not Superman”.
Barba has been in imperious form and is an unbackable favourite to win this year’s Dally M medal as the competition’s best player while shooting the Bulldogs to the top of the competition ladder.
But Sheens, whose Tigers will clash with Canterbury at ANZ Stadium on Friday night, says he doesn’t view the NRL’s top side or their gun No.1 as untouchable.
Sheens pointed to last Sunday’s clash with Brisbane, when the Bulldogs trailed 14-0 after 13 minutes, as proof there are weaknesses in Des Hasler’s men that can be exploited.
“I’m not in awe of (their current form). They’re beatable,” Sheens said.
“They’ve got plenty of cracks in their armour as well.
“We’ve identified that. But it’s about getting it done – you’ve still got to do it.
“Brisbane last week exposed them a number of times.”
Barba leads the NRL in tries (19) and tackle breaks (138) and is second in line breaks (22), but Sheens said his players wouldn’t be overawed when confronting the brilliant 23-year-old.
“He’s going well but he’s not Superman – not the way you guys (media) are saying it,” Sheens said.
“I’m sure Dessie’s saying the same thing. There’s a lot more ammunition to their game besides him.
“But he’s the man of the moment so we’re going to have to put a fair bit of pressure on him.”
Sheens said the key to shutting down Barba’s influence on the game was to limit his opportunities and provide a strong kick-chase.
In their last clash, a 32-20 victory to the Bulldogs in round 18, the Tigers peppered Barba with high balls – and Sheens said it would be a tactic they’d need to approach carefully, with halfback Benji Marshall admitting they had gone overboard with it in their previous encounter.
“Like any good player, you limit as much of the opportunities that he gets,” Sheens said.
“We’ve got to kick judiciously … and chase well.
“Obviously he’s the key indicator from the point of view of attack so we’ve got to make sure we’ve got numbers around on that side of the field.
“He’s going to hurt us at some stage (but) you don’t want that to be too many times.”