Forever Brothers Cover

Forever Brothers

The bond that won the 2005 Premiership

Daniel Lane

Dolphin Press

At the halfway mark of the 2005 National Rugby League season the Wests Tigers were dismissed by even their most ardent supporters as legitimate premiership contenders. They languished in 11th place… betting agencies established them as 80/1 longshots to win the title… their detractors described them as a ‘rag tag band’… the experts claimed the forwards lacked the firepower needed to win a grand final… others scoffed their line-up lacked the star power of their more fancied rivals. Two rounds later, after being trounced 40-22 by the Broncos in Brisbane, those odds blew out to an unflattering 150/1.

Despite the fact outsiders didn’t believe they could make an impact on the season, the Tim Sheens-coached Wests Tigers remained committed to their pre-season pledge to finish in the top four. They were fuelled not only by a sense of defiance—and confidence—that comes with youth, but the players shared an unshakeable belief in one another’s willingness to bleed for the team. Their sense of brotherhood became the cornerstone for a rugby league miracle.

Towards the end of the season the Tigers commenced an eight straight winning streak which lifted them eight places on the ladder. In the process they unleashed an audacious brand of football that left their opponents reeling in shock and awe. Young guns Benji Marshall, Scott Prince, and Robbie Farah quickly came to symbolise all that was exciting about the game’s new breed of talent.

I don’t think I’ve ever been involved with a closer group. No cliques; everyone together.

Ben Galea

Before the grand final I almost started crying. It was so emotional a feeling. Incredible. I’d played for 11 years and I was running out in front of 83,000 people.

John Skandalis

I remember Tim Sheens promise we’d be brothers forever if we won the grand final. He told the truth. We’re brothers.

Anthony Laffranchi

I have an older brother. Paul wanted to play first grade. He had the same sort of dreams as me as a kid. Whenever I played he was out there on my shoulder and with me. That was how he shared it. He was with me.

Mark O’Neill

I didn’t even tell my mother I might miss the game because of a hamstring injury.

Todd Payten