RAISING THE BAR: The Waves Tukerekere Hikaka passes the ball.
RAISING THE BAR: The Waves Tukerekere Hikaka passes the ball. Brian Cassidy

CAN THE CHAMPS MAKE A STAND? Tigers coach demands response

LEAGUE: The Waves might be the defending premiers but coach Antonio Kaufusi knows his side isn't playing like it just yet.

Kaufusi is expecting a lift in his team this week when the side takes on Western Suburbs at Salter Oval.

The Tigers won 30-28 last week against the Hervey Bay Seagulls but Kaufusi felt like it was a loss.

"I wasn't that happy,” he said.

"I felt like we didn't win because of the effort in the last 20 minutes, we conceded too many points.

"It's not a good thing, against all the other teams those will be losses.”

Kaufusi let his team know he was unhappy and emphasised it through training this week.

"I'm hoping for a huge improvement,” he said.

"I've put the ringer through them this week.

"I'm expecting a lot of effort.”

Kaufusi added the end of game could have been because of the two-week break the competition had for Easter and Magic Round in the NRL.

But he was making sure the side was fully focused in case it was something else.

The former NRL and State of Origin player also wants the team prepared to face what he believes is a strong Wests outfit.

"I'm more nervous when my team plays Wests,” he said.

"I admire the way they play.

"It doesn't matter where they are on the ladder they always turn up.

"As underdogs they always seem to turn the tables and come out strong.”

Kaufusi added the way Wests play makes it hard for opposition teams.

"You always expect a tough, gritty, match,” he said.

"They like to get stuck in there.

"I'm hoping our boys can mix it with them.”

Kaufusi said it was important to win considering where the side is on the ladder.

The Waves are two games behind the top two in fifth.

A loss will put the side towards the bottom of the finals and even outside of the top five if results don't go their way.

"It's probably the slowest start I've ever been involved at with the club,” Kaufusi said.

"Best thing is we've got time to turn it around.”

But the club will have to do it without Dan McLennan (below) and all of their Gladstone recruits after they all left the Tigers.

Kaufusi is confident the current squad has what it takes to turn it around but may take a couple of weeks to get there.

The side play each other at 6pm tonight.

In the other match, Hervey Bay take on the unbeaten Past Brothers at the same time at Stafford Park.