2020 was another disappointing year for the Wests Tigers, dropping two spots from 9th last year to finish 11th.
2020 Club Record
Competition Points: 14
2020 Player Achievements
Most Tries: David Nofoaluma (17)
Most Points: Moses Mbye (74)
After finishing 9th in three of the past four seasons, the Tigers were hopeful of finally making that leap into finals footy in season 2020. But what started out as a promising season turned into another mediocre finish for a club without a finals appearance since 2011.
Prior to the COVID-19 break, they started with a win against the Dragons (24-14) and an embarrassing loss to the Knights at Leichhardt Oval (42-24). They restarted the season with a win over the Sharks in round three, a game in which young gun Harry Grant made his debut for the club (loaned from the Storm in exchange for Paul Momirovski).
They followed this win with two close losses to the Titans (28-23) and Raiders (14-6). The Titans loss hurt as they had all but secured a win with a Benji Marshall field goal, until a try in the final minutes to Phillip Sami got the Titans over the line.
After a tough loss to the Raiders, they went on to beat the Cowboys (36-20) and Bulldogs (34-6) comfortably to get back in the winner’s circle. However, as was the case throughout the year they struggled against the top eight sides and suffered close losses to Penrith (19-12) and South Sydney (18-10) in the following weeks.
It was around this time they lost key forwards Zane Musgrove and Alex Twal to injury, with Twal missing a month and Musgrove out 10-12 weeks. The highlight of the season came in round 10 when they smashed a hapless Broncos side (48-0) on a wet night at Leichhardt Oval.
In the weeks following this win, they lost stars Harry Grant and Billy Walters to knee injuries, leaving them without a recognised hooker until Jacob Liddle returned from an ACL injury in round 14. Grant was out three weeks; Walters would not play again for the season.
Of their remaining games, all but one were against top eight sides, which made the journey to finals footy extremely tough. They managed to pull off a miraculous win against Manly in round 17 (34-32) in which they came back from 14 points down with 11 minutes left. Adam Doueihi sealing the win with a try and goal.
However, the quality of opposition on their road to the finals proved too much to overcome. They finished the year with three straight losses to end in 11th position, two shy of the dreaded 9th place finish they have become accustom to.
At the conclusion of the season, they said farewell to club legends Chris Lawrence and Benji Marshall, two players who have been cornerstones of the club for the past 15 years. They’ll move forward into season 2021 hopeful of breaking their almost decade-long finals drought. New signing James Tamou will bring some much needed experience to a young forward pack.
NothingButLeague Player of the Season
Nofoaluma was the leading try scorer for the Tigers with 17 for the year and was named Dally M winger of the year alongside Josh Addo-Carr. In addition to his try scoring feats, he tallied seven try-assists, 118 tackle busts (3rd in the NRL) and 17 linebreaks, earning himself a reputation as one of the toughest players to tackle in the game.
In a season of mediocrity for the Tigers, Nofoaluma was consistently one of the standout performers and should be considered unlucky to miss out on a place in the Origin squad for NSW.
2021 GAINS AND LOSSES
William Kei (2021), James Tamou (Penrith Panthers, 2022), Kelma Tuilagi (2021), Stefano Utoikamanu (Parramatta Eels, 2023) Paul Momirovski (Melbourne Storm, 2022)
Matthew Eisenhuth (Penrith Panthers), Harry Grant (Melbourne Storm), Robert Jennings (Penrith Panthers), Chris Lawrence (Retired), Benji Marshall, Chris McQueen, Dylan Smith, Elijah Taylor, Oliver Clark (all released)