With the season opener just around the corner we look at how the Wests Tigers will go in 2021.
Another lacklustre season in 2020 for the Tigers saw them finish short of the finals again in 11th position. With the loss of some club legends, they will be on the hunt for a new era and hopefully a change in fortune.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
SigningsEmbed from Getty Images
James Tamou (Penrith Panthers, 2022), James Roberts (South Sydney Rabbitohs, 2022), Joe Ofahengaue (Brisbane Broncos, 2023), Stefano Utoikamanu (Parramatta Eels, 2023), Daine Laurie (Penrith Panthers, 2023), Tukimihia Simpkins (North Queensland Cowboys, 2023), William Kei (Western Suburbs Magpies, 2021), Kelma Tuilagi (Melbourne Storm, 2021)
Josh Aloiai (Manly Sea Eagles), Benji Marshall (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Matthew Eisenhuth (Penrith Panthers), Harry Grant (Melbourne Storm), Paul Momirovski (Penrith Panthers), Robert Jennings (Penrith Panthers), Sam McIntyre (Gold Coast Titans), Josh Reynolds (Hull FC), Elijah Taylor (Salford Red Devils), Kane Bradley (North Queensland Cowboys), Chris McQueen (released), Oliver Clark (released), Dylan Smith (released), Chris Lawrence (retired)
Canberra Raiders (A), Sydney Roosters (H), Newcastle Knights (A), Parramatta Eels (H), North Queensland Cowboys (H)
WHAT TO EXPECT
After mass changes in the offseason, the expectations for the Tigers are a relative unknown compared to previous years. The exodus of several players including club legends Benji Marshall and Chris Lawrence leaves question marks over how they will fair with a new look roster. With the structure of the spine still yet to be confirmed – they could find themselves battling to avoid the wooden spoon.Embed from Getty Images
To prevent that, one player who needs to have a standout year is Luke Brooks. For years he has been touted with the potential of becoming one of the better halves in the competition but has failed to live up to the hype. With Benji Marshall moving on and Josh Reynolds heading overseas, the team is his to command. For them to threaten finals footy, he will need to take the reins and elevate his level of play.
Assisting him, there are plenty of new faces to set a platform in the middle. New signings Joe Ofahenguae and James Tamou will bring a wealth of experience to a young crop of Tigers forwards. Another strong addition is James Roberts, who can cause headaches for opponents with his speed if he can get back to career best form. Add the skills of Daine Laurie to the backline and the Tigers should see an uptick in attacking potency, if they can balance their spine.Embed from Getty Images
However, the draw presents an early challenge. In their first six games, they play five teams who made finals last year (Raiders, Roosters, Knights, Eels and Rabbitohs). They hit a tricky run from rounds 13-16 when they play the Panthers, Eels, Storm and Rabbitohs in consecutive games. Following their round 17 bye they have a favourable run to the finals, only playing one team who made finals last year (Panthers, round 24).
Top Tryscorer – David NofoalumaEmbed from Getty Images
Top Pointscorer – Adam DoueihiEmbed from Getty Images
Club Player of the Year – Alex TwalEmbed from Getty Images
WHERE WILL THE TIGERS FINISH?
With all the changes at the club, the prediction is this will be a transition year for the Tigers. They’ll be within a group of teams outside the top eight hoping to find a way in. If the new additions can find their feet, they have the potential to break their finals drought.