NRL news 2023: Canterbury Bulldogs boss Phil Gould calls Wests Tigers coach Tim Sheens’ bluff amid John Bateman mystery
Phil Gould reckons he’s caught Tim Sheens bluffing.
Prized Wests Tigers recruit John Bateman was on Tuesday afternoon named in the club’s squad for the first time this season, but Sheens only listed the former Raiders tough nut in the No.20 jumper.
Bateman’s absence from the first two rounds caused a stir, especially among already disgruntled Tigers fans.
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Gould, Canterbury’s general manager of football, thinks Bateman will face the Bulldogs on Sunday afternoon despite not being named in the Tigers’ 17.
“The club is in the best position to gauge whether a player is ready,” Gould said on Wide World of Sports’ Six Tackles with Gus.
“I note he’s been named on the bench … An extended bench. Why would you name him if you weren’t going to play him? I fully expect that he will play this weekend.”
The noise surrounding Bateman’s absence from rounds one and two was amplified by the Tigers losing at Leichhardt Oval to the Titans and Knights.
Many Tigers fans were seething because a top-rate forward was watching from the sideline as the embattled club’s woes rolled into yet another season.
Sheens explained away the absence by saying the England international was still “settling in”, while Tigers chairman Lee Hagipantelis told SEN radio he was yet to “acclimatise or learn all of the plays”.
“He had some visa problems and couldn’t get out here until a little bit later, he had a World Cup campaign over there, so he probably had a bit of time off,” Gould said on his podcast.
“A lot of the World Cup players have had a shortened pre-season, (or) off-season, and a number of them are showing a little bit of rust early in the reason, which you’d expect.
“They (the Tigers) will play him (Bateman) when he’s ready.
“Ideally, you don’t let the desperation of your club, because you’ve lost a couple of games, dictate that you’re going to throw a bloke in if he’s not quite ready.
“I can only assume because they’ve named him, he will play, and if he plays he will be ready.
“He’s an international-class forward so they would love to be playing him.”
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Gould played down the doomsday feeling surrounding the Tigers, who the Bulldogs will meet at Belmore Sports Ground on Sunday afternoon.
“When you’re losing everyone is an expert,” said the Bulldogs supremo.
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“Everyone wants to pick your team, everyone wants to coach your team, everyone wants to coach your coach, then eventually they want to sack your coach.
“It’s never as good as people say, it’s never as bad as people say.”
He also suggested he was wary of the Tigers ahead of round three.
“They are not the sort of team history shows as being great as favourites,” Gould said.
“This week with the underdog status makes them infinitely more dangerous … They’ll be a different prospect this week.”
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