Gains: Adam Doueihi (Souths), Joseph Leilua (Raiders), Luciano Leilua (Dragons), Zane Musgrove (deregistered), Billy Walters (Storm)
Losses: Esan Marsters (Cowboys), Ryan Matterson (Eels), Mahe Fonua (Hull FC), Robbie Farah, Ben Matulino, Robbie Rochow (all retirement)
1. Adam Doueihi
2. David Nofoaluma
3. Moses Mbye
4. Joseph Leilua
5. Paul Momirovski
6. Benji Marshall
7. Luke Brooks
8. Thomas Mikaele
9. Billy Walters
10. Alex Twal
11. Luke Garner
12. Luciano Leilua
13. Matt Eisenhuth
14. Josh Reynolds
15. Zane Musgrove
16. Josh Aloiai
17. Michael Chee Kam
Others: Corey Thompson, Tommy Talau, Robert Jennings, Chris Lawrence, Elijah Taylor, Chris McQueen, Oli Clark, Alex Seyfarth, Sam McIntyre, Dylan Smith, Jacob Liddle (injured), Russell Packer (injured)
It’s a big year for: Alex Twal – Twal has arguably been WT’s most consistent and reliable player since his debut at the back end of 2017.
While he upped his minutes, metres & tackles in 2019, the forward pack needs him to step it up another level and become the leader of the forward pack this season.
With Matulino retiring, talk Packer could be heading the same way & the veterans Elijah Taylor & Chris Lawrence on the outside looking in, WT’s forward pack has become incredibly young & inexperienced virtually overnight.
The projected forward pack & bench will see Michael Chee Kam take over as the most experienced forward in the lineup – Chee Kam has played 75 NRL games.
Mr Consistent needs to find another gear for the Tigers to break their finals drought in 2020.
Player to Watch: Zane Musgrove – If you’ve seen any of Musgrove’s preseason training or performances, it’s easy to see why Madge fought so hard (some would say too hard) to have Musgrove in Tigers colours.
Musgrove looks to be a nice complementary piece in a Tigers middle rotation that can seem very “same/same”.
Mikaele & Aloiai have similar low, explosive running styles while Twal & Eisenhuth are also quite similar in their upright running styles and game play.
Musgrove immediately stood out and made a difference against the Warriors in Rotorua, hitting the line at speed, making a team high in post contact metres & overall proving the hardest to handle of the Tigers middles.
Key in 2020: The Leilua brothers – The Tigers of 2019 desperately lacked players who could create for themselves from anywhere on the park. As they’ve both shown in their careers to date, the Leilua brothers address that issue and then some. For the first time in a long time, the Tigers finally have some genuine strike power.
Biggest concern in 2020: The number 9 – Although it’s good to see Walters making the most of an opportunity as well as finding a way to get some kind of value out of Reynolds’s pay packet, the hooking position is going to be an area of concern throughout 2020 until the aforementioned options can prove otherwise.
Failure to sign a consistent, NRL proven hooker & having such a glaring issue in the most important position on the field is something the Tigers will live or die by in 2020.
With Jacob Liddle not expected back at any level until after the Origin period & Jake Simpkin yet to play a competition game against grown men, it looms as a responsibility that will rest on the shoulders of Walters, Reynolds and possibly Mbye for most of the season.
Off Contract 2020: Oli Clark, Matt Eisenhuth, Robert Jennings, Chris Lawrence, Benji Marshall, Sam McIntyre, Chris McQueen, Paul Momirovski, Alex Seyfarth, Dylan Smith, Elijah Taylor