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Api Koroisau, Wests Tigers, struggles, Tim Sheens, wooden spoon, Panthers, contract, NRL 360

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Wests Tigers captain Api Koroisau has revealed he’s had to shift his mentality at the club after admitting the rebuild is more difficult than he anticipated.

Koroisau played in the three straight grand finals for the Panthers before joining the Tigers ahead of the 2023 season.

But the star hooker has tasted victory just three times this season, with the Tigers headed for a second straight wooden spoon while Penrith sit on the cusp of a third minor premiership in four years.

“It took quite a bit out of me at the start but I’ve come to realise that I’m not at the same place that I was,” Koroisau said.

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“There’s a lot that needs to be done in this place and I’ve taken that challenge head on and I’ve shifted my mentality to more growth around the place rather than trying to sustain a high performance thing. It’s been good but it’s taken a bit to get used to.

“I didn’t think it was going to be this difficult to get up there, knowing the position we’re in, but it’s one of those things where I’ve learnt so much this year and am still learning to this day. I’m really looking forward to the challenge of rebuilding this club.”

NRL 360 panellist Michael Carayannis said Koroisau had every right to expect stronger performances this year.

The Tigers sacked coach Michael Maguire before appointing Tim Sheens and they also signed star players John Bateman and Isaiah Papali’i.

“He would have thought that the players that joined him this year that they would have been on an upward trajectory,” Carayannis said on NRL 360.

Api Koroisau didn’t think things would be this tough at the Tigers. GettySource: Getty Images

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“We know the recruits they made in the off-season after they changed the coaching staff, so he would have thought ‘well maybe we’re not bound for September but we can push for a top eight spot’.

“I think that’s why he’s found it so hard, but you’ve got to give him credit, particularly in the last few weeks he’s been easily their best player.”

James Hooper echoed the sentiment and pointed out just how stark the contrast has been in recent years between the Panthers and Tigers.

“He won back-to-back premierships (at Penrith), they were in the grand final the year before that,” Hooper said.

“He would have only lost possible single figure games over the course of three seasons and now he’s only one three games over the course of an entire year.

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“So you can understand it, the Tigers will get another wooden spoon this year and it’s a tough biscuit for everybody at the club.”

Koroisau re-signed with the club last month until the end of 2026 and former Tigers star Braith Anasta believes he’s been their best player this season.

“Api has been great for the club and he’s been their best player alongside Luke Brooks,” Anasta said.

“But he just didn’t realise how hard or how big of a challenge it was going to be for him. He’s still been a great buy and is a big part of their future.”

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