The Wests Tigers improved slightly in the 2016, but the club again had its name dragged through the mud. The dramas between head coach Jason Taylor and Robbie reached boiling point throughout the year and with the suspensions of Kyle Lovett and Tim Simona due to off-field behavior (drug possession and gambling respectively) this year, it looks as though 2017 isn’t going to be any easier for the joint venture outfit.The Tigers managed to finish in 9th place and were just one point away from an unlikely playoff berth, however it had the 2nd worst defence in the league (only the hapless Newcastle Knights were worse). It’s attack improved slightly from 2015 scoring 12 more points, but more improvement will again be needed if the Tigers are to realise its potential and make a push for the finals.
With off the field distractions, Wests Tigers could find it harder to acheive success than initially though.
Why They’ll Win It: The class in the backline. The Tigers have some quality players that are reaching peak age for performance. The play that James Tedesco displayed last year had NRL fans void of words. His link up play with fellow stars Mitchell Moses and Luke Brooks is incredibly valuable to the Tigers cause.
All three men will need to be at their best throughout the year for the Tigers to have success, but when they are performing there is not too many better players in the NRL.
Why They Won’t: The Tigers have a severe lack of depth all over its squad and if injuries or serious suspensions hit then they will be in trouble.
Adding to this are the off field distractions that haunted the Tigers last season. With Tim Simona stepped down from the First Grade squad and Kyle Lovett suspended for the first two games due to a drug possession charge, the Tigers are already fighting against off field issues. If things like this continue it could send the join-venture club into a downward spiral.
Key Player: It’s quite obvious that James Tedesco is a key player for the Tigers as his play last year was majestic which led him to representing the NSW Blues in game 3 of State of Origin.
However he will need support from his forward pack, so a player to pay close attention to this year will be Aaron Woods. Woods has been a superb performer in the front row for the Tigers and has been rewarded with NSW and Australian selection.
Wood’s ability to offload at will and keep the ball alive help the Tigers play that ab-lib style of football that makes them so attractive to watch.
He is immense ind defence as well and will be relied on heavily to make the Tigers a tight-knit defensive unit and improve on last year’s disastrous defensive performance.
Rookies To Watch: When a club extends your contract for 1.3 million over three years, you can guarantee that there is big wraps on you.
That is the case with teenage sensation Mosese Suli. The 18-year-old was signed to a massive extension earlier this year thwarting off many rival clubs.
The powerful centre is touted to make an appearance at some stage this year despite having only played 2 NYC matches for the Tigers.
He is powerful and strong, and is blessed with a powerful fend.
If he can stay fit he could become a huge player for the Tigers especially with the loss of Tim Simona.
Matt McIlwrick (Cronulla)
Josh Addo-Carr (Melbourne)
Jack Buchanan – mid season 2016 (Widnes)
Manaia Cherrington (Cronulla)
Josh Drinkwater (released)
Robbie Farah (Souths)
Asipeli Fine – mid season 2016 (Canterbury)
Dene Halatau (retired)
Lamar Liolevave (Canterbury)
Billy McConnachie (released)
Jesse Parahi (Rugby)
Chance Peni (Rugby)
Curtis Sironen (Manly)
1. James Tedesco
2. David Nofoaluma
3. Mosese Sula
4. Jamaal Idris
5. Kevin Naiqama
6. Mitchell Moses
7. Luke Brooks
8. Aaron Woods
9. Matt Ballin
10. Tim Grant
11. Sauaso Sue
12. Chris Lawrence
13. Elijah Taylor
14. Ava Seumanufaigai
15. Jacob Liddle
16. Josh Aloiai
17. Michael Chee-Kam