Last season placing: 13th
Who would want to be a Wests Tigers fan? Each and every year there are talks that this will be their year. The young players are going to find their feet, the coach will get the best out of the squad. Off-field dramas won’t affect the team. However, each year all of the above seem to go out the window by about round 10. Will this year be different? I think so.
With a new head coach in Jason Taylor and an overhaul of the club’s administration, it seems for the first time in the joint-ventures history things are falling into place. There is indeed a very good group of young stars coming through and while every Tigers fan hates comparing to the glory days of 2005, it’s hard to not be optimistic with this team for 2015.
Key Players: The spine of any rugby league team is vitally important but none more than the Tigers. At fullback is James Tedesco who must have walked under a ladder, stepped on a black cat and broke a mirror all at the same time such has been his luck with injuries. Apparently he has altered his running style and hopefully this will keep him on the field in 2015.
For a few years Tigers fans have been waiting for the partnership that reads Moses and Brooks. This year, barring injuries in pre-season, round 1 against the Titans that wish will come true. Two prodigious young stars will be crucial if the Tigers have any chance of winning in 2015.
Finally, the captain; Robbie Farah. Despite outsiders doubting the morals of the skipper, without him the Tigers will struggle. Joel Luani is a solid back-up and Manaia Cherrington will be a star in the future, but the Tigers need Farah to find that vintage form this season.
Drawbacks: There has been some experience lost over the last 12 months which may hinder the Tigers chances. The sudden retirement of Liam Fulton will mean the dressing sheds are a little quieter, and despite Braith Anasta almost becoming a lock for most overrated player throughout his career, his experience was important in Luke Brooks development. Couple those losses with the sudden departure of Adam Blair to the Broncos and a fair chunk of games in the NRL have left the club. A lot of pressure will be placed on the remaining senior players including Pat Richards, Robbie Farah and Dene Halatau.
Story of 2015: It has to be Jason Taylor doesn’t it? The coach’s last NRL gig saw him unceremoniously sacked after being knocked out by one of his own players. Now having served his apprenticeship under Roosters coach Trent Robinson, Taylor will have his own chance to take a team all the way to the grand final. Parting his playmaking knowledge to young halves Mitchell Moses and Luke Brooks will be important in the grand scheme of the Tigers season.
Ladder: To make the top 8.
Top Tryscorer: James Tedesco
Top Pointscorer: Pat Richards
Player of the Year: Luke Brooks