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Tigers respondto Gould

NZN 1/04/2017 Steve Zemek

Wests Tigers interim coach Andrew Webster has dismissed a broadside from Phil Gould, after the former NSW coach questioned the NRL strugglers' fitness levels.

The Tigers are languishing at the bottom of the ladder after three straight losses and are set to be without halfback Luke Brooks for three weeks due to a hamstring injury.

Webster stepped in to the breach after the club's board sacked Jason Taylor after round three and has been forced to defend his charges against criticism they're hiding a soft underbelly.

The Blues' most successful coach and Network Nine commentator, Gould used his podcast 'Six Tackles With Gus' to this week question whether the Tigers were fit enough for the top grade.

He pointed to their second-half capitulation against Melbourne last week and long-range tries scored by Josh Addo-Carr and Cheyse Blair as proof their conditioning wasn't up to standard.

Ahead of the Tigers' clash with St George Illawarra on Sunday, Webster refused to throw a return jab at Gould but said his side were their own worst enemies with their inability to build pressure taking a physical toll.

"I think we're learning lessons about playing the whole 80 minutes," Webster said.

"Gus is a very experienced guy and he's got strong opinions so I'm not going to take anything away from Gus.

"But if we're building a bit more pressure, when you don't do that it's going to hurt you physically and that's what everyone's seeing right now.

"If we tick those boxes, we'll be a lot better."

The Tigers looks set to announce Ivan Cleary as their new coach next week but not before they face a stern test against a resurgent Dragons outfit at ANZ Stadium.

The Dragons, who went into round five in third, last week became the first team to cross the 100 points marker this season, a remarkable turnaround given their offensive struggles under Paul McGregor the past two years.

They finished with the second worst attacking record - 435 points in 2015 and 341 points in 2016.

In 2017, they top the league in a number of offensive and defensive indicators. They are making the equal most tackle busts (34 per game) and the second most run metres (1482m per game), according to Fox Sports Stats.

The are also missing the least tackles per game - 17.

But it's a long way to September and their fans will remember 2015 well when they led the competition after 12 rounds before falling in a heap to finish eighth and exit the finals in the first week.

"It's building," McGregor said.

"I've been really impressed with our defence over the last fortnight and it can still get better.

"Our inside pressure needs to get better a little bit and our missed tackles have been outstanding.

"It allows you to play a little bit of footy.

"But I still think that's building - our attack."

STATS THAT MATTER

* It is the Tigers worst start to a season since 2012, when they also won their opening match but then lost five straight matches.

* The Tigers are ranked last in tries scored (2.3 per game) and concede the most points (30.5 per game), most linebreaks (7.5 per game) and miss the most tackles (34).

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