West Tigers coach Michael Maguire has declared Zane Musgrove can be one of the game’s best front-rowers as he prepares for his first NRL match in two-and-a-half-seasons.
Musgrove will finally run out for the Tigers in Sunday night’s clash with St George Illawarra, after they had first tried to sign him in late 2018.
Still only 23, Musgrove has had a horror run off the field.
He was stood down by South Sydney in mid-2018 amid domestic violence charges which were subsequently dropped, before he was fined for destroying property.
His 2019 was ruined when the NRL refused to register his Tigers contract over a charge of assault with an act of indecency, before he was found guilty last October and sentenced to a 12-month intensive corrections order.
Maguire has been his coach at the Rabbitohs and Tigers, after the forward’s signing by Souths from New Zealand as a teenager.
“Across life, you make mistakes,” Maguire said. “He’s gone away and looked at everything he needed to do to get back into this position.”
“That’s why I’m proud of him.
“He’s a player that hopefully, one day, kids can look at and say, if you go through something of some sorts, you can bounce back and this is another example of that.”
And it’s for that reason Maguire is confident Musgrove can succeed again at the Tigers.
He will be the Tigers’ biggest middle forward on Sunday in Wollongong, and will be asked to add a massive impact off the bench.
“He can be one of the great front-rowers of the game,” Maguire said.
He’s just got to make sure he gets on the field and does it consistently.
“He’s a big body going forward. I will let him do the talking with the way he plays.
“I think that is something he is focused on – building his body into what he can become.
“To see his resilience he has had to work through, I’m really proud of for him. He has put his head down and got his opportunity.”
Meanwhile in Saturday on-field action, Newcastle Knights began a new era with a 20-0 win over the Warriors on Saturday, the first time they have kept a team scoreless in six NRL seasons.
Over the pre-season the Knights had boasted improved defensive resilience under new coach Adam O’Brien and it was on show at McDonald Jones Stadium against the hapless Kiwi outfit.
Not since 2014 when the Knights beat Cronulla 30-0 in round four has the club produced such an effective defensive performance.
“I wasn’t aware of that, that’s great for these guys,” O’Brien said when told of the stat.
“This club has been built on and had such a rich and proud history, it’s a good tip of the cap to this group that they can hang on to set some good standards.
It is only one game but we only had to play one game today, so I think they’ll be overjoyed when I let them know that stat.”
With O’Brien’s new system, the Knights kept the Warriors to just 993 running metres from 46 per cent of the possession.
In comparison, the home side made 1376 metres with 54 per cent of the ball.
Not helping the Warriors was a lack of discipline as they gave away 13 penalties and had half Chanel Harris-Tavita sin-binned midway through he first half for repeated infringements.
Knights Daniel Saifiti and Edrick Lee scored tries in front of a crowd of 10,239.
“I’m so grateful, I don’t know the exact figure of the crowd but to every single person that was out there, there’s plenty of reasons not to go to the footy in terms of the coronavirus and even the weather and it just shows what sort of town and community region this is,” O’Brien said.
Late in the match the Warriors made the first successful captain’s challenge of the NRL season.
Skipper Roger Tuivasa-Sheck challenged what was originally ruled a knock on by the Warriors, and it was overturned when the Bunker revealed Knights prop Tim Glasby touched the football first.
It was a horrible end to round one for the Warriors with news emerging during the game they will need to be quarantined for 14 days if they are to return to New Zealand after 10pm on Sunday.