Tigers' NRL woes start with me: Tamou

West Tigers skipper James Tamou has launched a strong defence of under-fire coach Michael Maguire.
West Tigers skipper James Tamou has launched a strong defence of under-fire coach Michael Maguire.

As the Wests Tigers stare down the barrel of a 10th-straight season without finals football, captain James Tamou has urged critics to target him for the disappointing season rather than under-pressure coach Michael Maguire.

The Tigers wasted a massive chance to stay in contention for a top-eight place in round 20, losing to a depleted and injury-riddled Warriors outfit after taking a 10-0 lead into half-time.

Watching from the sidelines, Tamou said while it's still a learning curve for their young leadership group it was difficult to witness such a talented team throw away games.

"We've got obviously a young leadership group here and you know just understanding the game and what needs to be done and knowing each other's roles, I think is the most important part coming out of that game.

"Me being the leader and me being the captain, I'm not driving that home enough.

"It's tough looking at the position we're in and (with) the team we have, I know we can do things.

"But ... I've let it slip by for too long and I put that all on me."

Among the Tigers' struggles, speculation is swirling around coach Michael Maguire's future at the club after another disappointing season.

Sitting 13th on the ladder and four points adrift of a finals spot, Tamou said Maguire was not to blame and instead pinned the focus on him.

"There was a thing coming in and I wanted to uphold and drive standards and that," said the former Penrith skipper in his first season with the Tigers.

"But I couldn't come in and start yelling ... because I'm not going to get anyone's trust.

"Who am I to tell this bloke what to do ... when they've been here for a few years and endured the pain that the Tigers have.

"You read that 'the coach has lost the players' at certain teams and things like that, that's never ever been the case here," Tamou said.

"He's got the respect of the players. He gets us ready for games and you wouldn't believe some of the speeches he says, some of the best I've heard.

"I will fight for him because he's got a good understanding of this team and the team do respect him."

Australian Associated Press