Sheens takes another swipe at Hastings, Knights over Talau tackle

Adam Doueihi looks set to overcome a foot injury and John Bateman is firming to make his much-anticipated Wests Tigers debut, but coach Tim Sheens could not resist taking another swipe at Newcastle and Jackson Hastings on Saturday.

Bateman came through the captain’s run and, provided he pulls up fine on Sunday morning, will feature against Canterbury in what will be his first NRL game in 884 days.

The risk of starting Bateman in extreme heat at Belmore was not lost on Sheens, but the coach was confident the forward will be fit enough for his NRL second coming.

Doueihi trained for the first time on Saturday because of a bruise beneath his big toe, and looked comfortable in the final session.

Although focused on causing a boilover against the Bulldogs, Sheens was still smarting about last weekend’s loss to the Knights. He made it clear Tommy Talau had nose surgery after copping a high shot from Hastings. Hastings was fined but avoided suspension.

The tackle sparked heated post-match scenes involving Hastings, Talau and David Klemmer.

Wests Tigers recruit John Bateman is in line to make his club debut on Sunday.Credit:Wests Tigers

The Knights asked the match review committee to take a close look at a hip-drop tackle by Tigers back-rower Isaiah Papali’i, which led to a ban. News Corp reported on Friday the match review committee initially missed Papali’i’s tackle, but charged the back-rower after the Knights made them aware of it.

“It was a nasty one, Tommy couldn’t breathe out of the nose,” Sheens said.

“It might have been accidental, as the perpetrator [Hastings] said, but in teal terms, he still broke his nose and [Talau] will miss this and two more weeks. The grading was pretty lucky there [for Hastings], but unlucky for us.

“If what you’re saying [about Papali’i] is right, and they went to the review committee over a particular tackle, I should have probably gone back and said, ‘The kid is going in for surgery and will miss two weeks’.

“But I’m not into that sort of garbage. In saying that, I will protect my players.”

Visa problems delayed Bateman’s arrival in Australia, and the 29-year-old has tried to quickly learn the Tigers’ plays while battling heat and sunburn. There has been a lot of attention on his health and a perceived dodgy ankle, but Sheens said the delayed start was simply due to fitness.

Bateman is an intense character, which Sheens described as “that little bit of extra in them to win”.

He will spend time in the back row and in the middle. Api Koroisau will need to produce extra minutes as back-up hooker Jake Simpkin is out for at least a month following a heavy concussion against the Knights.

The Bulldogs, who have Josh Reynolds on standby for Matt Burton, are coached by former Tigers target Cameron Ciraldo.

“We were laughed at for offering him five years, but nobody said anything when Canterbury signed him for five years,” Sheens said.

When it was pointed out Ciraldo could have blocked his own return to head coaching, Sheens said: “Sometimes I wished he did.”

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