Tim Sheens has revealed why he decided to pull David Nofoaluma from the field 51 minutes into their 26-22 loss to Canterbury on Sunday afternoon, causing a sudden spine reshuffle.
Despite a late charge at the finish line, the Wests Tigers were subpar again over the weekend, and on the wrong side of a 20-6 half-time deficit, Sheens didn't waste the opportunity to make wholesale changes.
Nofoaluma was quiet early in the clash, making 50% of his tackles, running just 41 metres and committing a handling error, however the first-half double to opposite number Josh Addo-Carr was all the veteran coach needed to see.
Sheens dragged Nofoaluma from the field, shifting fullback Charlie Staines to the right wing, pushing Adam Doueihi from the halves back to fullback, and bring Brandon Wakeham into the match at five-eighth.
The 72-year-old was initially frosty when asked about the tactic.
“I don't want to talk about it, I am not going to justify what I did,” Sheens stated in his post-match press conference.
The Bulldogs quickly capitalised after the reshuffle as Matt Burton scored a scintillating solo try, stepping Doueihi at the back before diving under the sticks.
However, momentum shifts fast in rugby league, and in a blink of an eye, suddenly the Tigers had clawed it back to 26-22 with nine minutes on the clock.
While they couldn't snatch a win from the jaws of defeat, the reshuffle was justified after Brandon Wakeham had a hand in two tries, and produced a line-break, a line-break assist and a try-assist in just a 29 minute cameo.
Sheens finally cracked, revealing exactly why he was comfortable making the switch.
“We had practised that all week, that was the thing, Adam didn't train all week except the captain's run yesterday,” Sheens said.
“It was always looking better with the two boys who played together, it wasn't working for us so I pushed Adam back there.
“And although I'm not saying he was the superstar, but he settled us down a little bit at the back there and he dominates the call, so he might get a bit more time there.”
While it was an unhappy club debut for John Bateman, the club will have a slight boost in next week's clash against the Melbourne Storm, with their opposition likely to be missing both starting halves.
Which Wests Tigers' spine faces Melbourne? That's a question only Sheens can answer right now.