Wests Tigers recruit Taane Milne has joined the club after an explosive World Cup campaign with Fiji but realises with a stack of other outside backs performing strongly in the pre-season he may have to bide his time for an NRL start.
Milne’s seven try assists in five games for Fiji was the equal most of any player in the men’s World Cup alongside Gareth Widdop, while his tally of 15 offloads was bettered only by Kiwis forward Martin Taupau.
But that breakout tournament is no guarantee of propelling him into a starting spot in round one of the Telstra Premiership, especially given the hugely impressive pre-season of talented 2017 debutant Esan Marsters.
Marsters has been named ahead of Milne to partner Kevin Naiqama in the centres for the club’s final trial with Milne named in the reserves list and hoping for a chance to impress coach Ivan Cleary against the Cronulla Sharks.
“[This weekend] is pretty massive, I’m just grateful to get an opportunity,” Milne told NRL.com.
“I played on the weekend just gone against North Queensland, I think the boys went well. There’s stuff I need to work on, hopefully this weekend I can improve and make everyone happy.
“Just little areas, effort off the ball, kick chase, stuff like that but hopefully I can clean that up. There’s always stuff to work on. Hopefully I can improve on that and show him (Cleary) that I’ve improved. Little one-percenters is the main thing.”
The World Cup certainly did plenty for Milne’s confidence though.
“It was my second time in camp with Fiji and the best experience I’ve had so far in my footy career,” Milne said.
“It was pretty special, the passion and desire from everyone. You see it from Kevvie (Fiji captain Kev Naiqama), every time we were out there, he’s so passionate. When you’re happy playing footy you play your best footy and I think that played a lot into my game.”
Milne’s move from the St George Illawarra Dragons was driven in part by opportunity and in part by a desire to be closer to home.
“I just made a decision, myself and my parents, we thought it was a better opportunity to come over to the Tigers. I only live not too far away as well so that was a plus so I’m hoping to get some consistent footy this year,” he said.
“I grew up in Brighton Le Sands, it was an hour to Wollongong, I’m all settled in now and got a good routine going and the boys are training well.
“There’s a lot of competition during the training sessions. It’s good for the club because there’s a lot of depth.”