Sunbury Tigers are setting themselves for a big second half to the Victorian Rugby League first division season.
Traditionally one of the powerhouses of the VRL, the Tigers have struggled in the past few years, firstly losing access to Melbourne Storm players and then having an exodus from the club.
Putting that behind them, the Tigers now find themselves in a good place on and off the field.
Senior coach Sione Ah Kuoi said the feeling around the club was good.
“What’s attracting players is we offer a strong family environment,” he said. “We have double the number of players we had last season.
“The players are taking ownership and responsibility for the club. The players are contributing with functions and really wanting to be involved.”
The Tigers are thriving on the field, as well. The influx of players has allowed them to again field a reserves side. While the reserves have yet to win a game, the side has given the club much-needed depth.
“At this time last year we were fourth,” said Ah Kuoi of the senior side. “We got really depleted with injuries and work commitments.At one stage last year, we had five under-18s playing – and they had already played a game. We ended up finishing eighth.”
The senior team is third on the ladder with five wins, including winning its last four games.
On Saturday, the Tigers easily accounted for Northern Thunder 56-24.
It was a sweet win after the Tigers lost to the Thunder in round one, a game Ah Kuoi thought they should have won by 10 points.
He said the Tigers, who only have five players from last year, have their eyes firmly focussed on playing finals. Ah Kuoi believes there won’t be a repeat of last year’s fadeout given the club’s greater depth.
The Tigers have a number of stars this season, including three players in the state squad.
Terry Constantinou, who returned to the club this season after not playing last year, is in the squad, along with full-back Tiaan Wilkins, from New Zealand, and Samisoni Fusi, who is one of the leading try scorers in the VRL.
Fusi was part of Tonga’s World Cup squad.
The Tigers will face second-placed Werribee Bears on Saturday.
It’ll be a big weekend for the Tigers, with Scott McEntee, who is playing in the reserves, becoming the first Tiger to play 200 VRL games.