Wests Tigers NRL coach Jason Taylor has slammed as “unfair” and “ridiculous” his NRL team having to play Canterbury twice in four weeks.
The Tigers lost a golden point thriller 25-24 to the Bulldogs at ANZ Stadium back in round four on March 27 and they clash again at the same venue in round eight on Friday night.
Taylor’s team have dropped to ninth and a 3-4 record, after losing four of their last five games.
The Bulldogs are fifth with a 4-3 record, but have Josh Morris joining brother Brett on the injury list and captain James Graham still suspended for his indiscretions in the last match against the Tigers.
While it might seem a good time to catch the Bulldogs, with three of their key players missing – and a questionable time to complain about playing them, on the eve of the match, Taylor was steamed up on Thursday.
“For teams to play the same team twice inside of the first eight rounds of the season it’s ridiculous,” Taylor said.
Initially Taylor didn’t want to elaborate too much, but he returned a couple of minutes after the media conference ended to have another pop at the NRL draw, saying it was “completely unfair.”
“Now why couldn’t it have been that we played a team that was much further down the ladder and had two wins in those two games and then we could be up in the top four,” he said.
“The difference in morale around the club, the difference in attitude because of the fact we’re feeling so confident about the way we’re playing, has a massive impact on how a team performs.
“The Bulldogs have played Manly twice. Manly are having a tough season they have only won one game.
“There’s four competition points they have, they may not have had, had they played the Rabbitohs twice.
“It’s unfair, it’s as simple as that.”
Taylor would prefer to see every team play the other 15 once before having a second match against anyone.
“At at least if they did that, after 15 rounds we would clearly know who the best team is, because they’d be leading after having played everyone in the competition, where we can’t know that (under the current draw).”
Taylor emphasised the Tigers needed to fix their defensive gremlins after conceding 62 points in their past two games.
He felt his players had responded well after surrendering a 22-0 lead to Canberra last week.
“It was a week of a bit of testing everybody’s character, you find out a lot about yourself when the pressure is on, and that’s what this week has been for us.”
Bulldogs’ coach Des Hasler predicted last week’s loss would spark a strong response from the Tigers.
“They will be smarting a little bit after the comeback by Canberra, so they will really want to make amends this week,” Hasler said.
“As a side I think they’ve come a long way in the competition so far.
“Jason Taylor has done a great job with them.”
Taylor said his captain and hooker Robbie Farah would play on Friday despite a sore shin limiting his training time this week.