Under-fire Sheens unfazed by NRL critics

Tim Sheens has batted away questions about his future as Wests Tigers coach, and says the club needs to bolster the depth of its roster for next season.

Defeat to Melbourne on Saturday at Leichhardt Oval will end the Tigers’ season, capping off a disappointing campaign that started with the joint-venture as NRL premiership favourites.

Sheens refused to answer questions about whether he would still be at the club next year should his side miss the finals after club great Steve Roche called for him to be axed on Thursday.

“I am only focused on this game. What will be is what will be, and can be discussed in the off-season,” Sheens said.

Sheens signed a new contract with the club last year, but his future has come under scrutiny following a season where his side has struggled to cope with injuries to key players.

Gareth Ellis, Keith Galloway, Lote Tuqiri and Chris Lawrence have all spent long spells on the sidelines and skipper Robbie Farah is again out of Saturday’s game with a broken hand.

Sheens admits the season would be seen as a failure if his side lose to the Storm but said there had been mitigating circumstances.

“We’ve had lots of circumstances this year that have made it tough but so does every team,” he said.

“Against Canterbury, we have two field-goals shots in golden point that we missed. If they go over, we’re not talking about this situation.

“But we’ve got to live with that. We’ve got to improve our depth and look at our recruitment in the off-season.”

Farah missed last Sunday’s 44-20 loss to Sydney Roosters due to the broken hand and his side capitulated in his absence, producing one of their worst performances of the season.

But Sheens hosed down speculation the NSW rake would have an injection in his hand and play through the pain to help his side get a win and said Masada Iosefa would continue in the No.9 jersey.

The Storm have lost six of the past eight games between the sides at Leichhardt and the veteran coach is urging his charges to lift again.

“We’ve had some big occasions this year and we have risen to them,” Sheens said.

“Tomorrow will be a good example of that.

“To beat Melbourne here tomorrow would mean we have beaten one of the true competition favourites.

“We have to win the game and see how the cards fall from there.”

If the Warriors defeat Canberra, the Tigers would progress if they beat the Storm, but Sheens has ordered his players to not be concerned about other games.

“Whatever happens, we have to win so I am not worried about what happens on Sunday,” he said.

The Tigers announced on Friday that exciting young forward Ben Murdoch-Masila has extended his contract for a further two years, which will keep him at the club until 2015.

“I’m really pleased with this new deal which will allow me to further develop my career with Wests Tigers,” Murdoch-Masila said.

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