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NRL: Tigers star backs under-fire coach

Wests Tigers prop Stefano Utoikamanu has jumped to the support of under-fire coach Michael Maguire and says the players need to take the wrap for a poor performance against Newcastle.

The Tigers are priced at 9/1  to finish in finals for the first time in 11 years but it has not been a great start and they have already lost the opening two games.

Maguire under pressure

Maguire was a man under pressure leading into the new season and the knives are out already following the poor start.

It was the manner of the defeat against the Knights that was most alarming but Utoikamanu says the players have to take a lot of the blame for the way they played.

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"It's a bit far fetched trying to blame the coach," he told reporters. "You've got to look at the players first. Madge is doing everything for us and puts in a lot of work for us and I really appreciate that. If we don't perform then it's on us.

"As a playing group you've got to be smart enough to know what's going wrong. Everyone knows the answer we've got to put it into work."

Marshall criticism

Meanwhile former Tigers ace Benji Marshall was highly critical of the display against the Knights with the now TV pundit saying it was not worthy of being first-grade standard. And  Utoikamanu says it was hard to disagree with that.

"I think there's a bit of truth in that," Utoikamanu told AAP. "We as a group can definitely play better. If you want to play first grade you can't be making 20 errors in a game and completing at 60 per cent. We definitely have good standards and we didn't hit those on the weekend."

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