AAP Rugby

Chee Kam targets berth in Tigers’ NRL pack

By AAP Newswire

Almost one year ago, Wests Tigers player Michael Chee Kam was caught up in the NRL's 'summer of hell' when arrested for assaulting a ride share driver in Bondi.

In April, he pleaded guilty to common assault for slapping the driver and was handed a 12-month good behaviour bond and a $2000 fine.

Remorseful for what he describes as an "out of character" moment, the 27-year-old is desperate to repay the Tigers for their support during the most turbulent time in his NRL career.

Heading into his fifth season with the club, that's exactly what he plans to do.

"Everyone goes through things in life that challenge you and I guess that builds your character," he said.

"I went through that and there's a lot of things I can improve on in life, especially off the field.

"It was out of character but it was a good learning curve for me."

Chee Kam re-signed with the club in May 2019 but is yet to nail down a permanent starting position, owing to his versatility as a back-rower or centre.

The club has lost star centre Esan Martsers to North Queensland but has added second-rower Luciano Leilua for 2020, putting more pressure on those in the forward pack.

It's a challenge Chee Kam welcomed.

"This year I want to try and play second row, I love second row and I want to make that my position," he said.

"There's a good opportunity there, we've signed a couple of back-rowers which is a good challenge at the club now."

The Tigers missed the finals for the eighth consecutive year in 2019, finishing ninth for the third time in four seasons.

A heartbreaking loss to Cronulla at Leichhardt Oval in the final round sealed their fate, but Chee Kam is confident the pain of it will linger as a motivator in 2020.

"Everyone had the feeling that we were going to win that game and go into the finals," he said.

"I have a lot of confidence and belief in the squad that we have that we can have a strong finish this year.

"Consistency is a big thing knowing what we can do.

"At times we played really good footy and then slipped one game, get pumped another game, and we can't do that.

"(Coach Michael Maguire) really pushed that this year with the meetings we've had so far."