2021 Top 30 (23)

Josh Aloiai
Kane Bradley
Luke Brooks
Michael Chee Kam
Zac Cini
Adam Doueihi
Luke Garner
Joey Leilua
Luciano Leilua
Jacob Liddle
Jock Madden
Moses Mbye
Thomas Mikaele
Zane Musgrove
David Nofoaluma
Russell Packer
Josh Reynolds
Jake Simpkin
Tommy Talau
Corey Thompson
Alex Twal
Stefano Utoikamanu
Billy Walters

2020 Top 30 (29)

Josh Aloiai
Luke Brooks
Michael Chee Kam
Oliver Clark
Adam Doueihi
Matt Eisenhuth
Luke Garner
Chris Lawrence
Joey Leilua
Luciano Leilua
Jacob Liddle
Jock Madden
Benji Marshall
Moses Mbye
Sam McIntyre
Chris McQueen
Thomas Mikaele
Paul Momirovski
Zane Musgrove
David Nofoaluma
Russell Packer
Josh Reynolds
Alex Seyfarth
Dylan Smith
Tommy Talau
Elijah Taylor
Corey Thompson
Alex Twal
Billy Walters

Matt Ballin (219 games)

Chris Lawrence (194 games)

Tim Grant (165 games)

Jamal Idris (131 games)

Aaron Woods (124 games)

Elijah Taylor (121 games)

Joel Edwards (96 games)

Ava Seumanufagai (87 games)

Tim Simona (79 games)

Sauaso Sue (79 games)

Kevin Naiqama (70 games)

James Tedesco (69 games)

Luke Brooks (66 games)

David Nofoaluma (63 games)

Mitchell Moses (57 games)

Kyle Lovett (43 games)

Jordan Rankin (39 games)

Matt McIlwrick (29 games)

Josh Aloiai (24 games)

Justin Hunt (22 games)

Michael Chee Kam (10 games)

JJ Felise (8 games)

Jack Littlejohn (8 games)

Jacob Liddle (1 game)

Matt Eisenhuth (0 games)

Jordan Grant (0 games)

Rod Griffin (0 games)

Watson Heleta (0 games)

Ryland Jacobs (0 games)

Connelly Lemuelu (0 games)

Wes Lolo (0 games)

Esan Marsters (0 games)

Taniela Paseka (0 games)

Bayley Sironen (0 games)

Moses Suli (0 games)

Junior Tatola (0 games)

WT 2018: It’s a big year for…

It’s a big year for…

Luke Brooks : Every year is a big year for Brooks, but 2018 really is THE biggest year for him.

Make no mistake, if there was more interest from other clubs, it could well have been the Farewell Four replacing the Big (talking) Four.

Unlike previous years, there’s also roster pressure on Brooks. He isn’t what he was 10 years ago, but it won’t take much for Cleary to throw 268 gamer Benji Marshall in if Brooks is struggling.

The one positive for Brooks is that he arguably played his best, most consistent football of his career under Cleary before his hamstring gave way again.

Although he is contracted until the end of 2019, this is it for Brooks. As of November 1 2018, the club can table an offer to rival players and we all know which player will be the focus for the club: N. Cleary.

Brooks has become the whipping boy for Tigers fans and NRL fans in general but you can’t help but feel for him. In 4 full years of first grade he has had 4 different head coaches, 4 ‘permanent’ halves partners and a careers worth of off field drama.

To continue this trend, Brooks will enter another season with another new halves partner. Luckily for him, Josh Reynolds is by far the best fit he has had.

The Tigers have struggled to find a good match for Brooks since his debut.

As much as the media pushed the Moses/Brooks narrative, it was always painfully obvious that they didn’t work together.

Anasta had the experience they craved around Brooks but never ran the ball. Moses had the running game they craved but was too controlling and Lolohea had the running game and the ability to take a back seat, but lacked experience and composure.

Reynolds will run, is happy to take a backseat and although he loves a brain snap, he’s experienced. He’s what the club has been looking for since L. Brooks debuted.

Reynolds is definitely not the best five-eighth in the game, but he’s one of the best fits for Brooks.

Over to you, Luke.

JJ Felise : Felise looked a ‘lock’ to start 2017 in the top grade after impressing in a handful of NRL games in 2016.

Unfortunately, injuries and form have stalled his development and progress, while the emergence of Alex Twal and Matt Eisenhuth has made it even more difficult for Felise to add to his 13 NRL games.

With the likes of Matulino, Packer, Sue, Twal, Eisenhuth, Grant and Aloiai ahead of him, development player Thomas Mikaele waiting in the wings and the likes of Cowen Epere and Patrice Siolo on ISP deals, this could be JJ’s final year at the club if he can’t find another level.

Sauaso Sue : Unfortunately for Sue, he has been seen as the solution to a number of forward depth issues for the last 3 seasons. He went from having big bench impact to being stripped of size and thrown on an edge (a position that was foreign to him).

Known as a leader amongst the group, he’ll need to find another level in 2018.

“Jesse” has certainly been a victim of the ever-changing roster and focus at the club over recent years. Hopefully increased forward depth and some stability on and off the field will see Sue return to a middle role only.

Due to the recruitment of Cleary and co, it looks likely that a few of Tim Grant, Matt Eisenhuth, Alex Twal, Josh Aloiai & JJ Felise will start 2018 in Magpies colours. Sue will likely avoid this due to his leadership and influence but will need to hit the ground running to avoid being overtaken by the new recruits and emerging middle forwards.

2018 GAINS: Mahe FONUA (Hull FC), Tyson GAMBLE (Redcliffe Dolphins), Heath GIBBS* (Newcastle Knights NYC), Pita GODINET (Manly Sea Eagles), Benji MARSHALL (Brisbane Broncos), Ben MATULINO (New Zealand Warriors), Sam MCINTYRE* (Newcastle Knights NYC), Chris MCQUEEN (Gold Coast Titans), Thomas MIKAELE* (WT NYC), Taane MILNE, Russell PACKER (St George-Illawarra Dragons), Josh REYNOLDS (Canterbury Bulldogs), Robbie ROCHOW (Melbourne Storm), Dylan SMITH* (Cronulla Sharks SG Ball), Corey THOMPSON (Widnes Vikings)

*Development Player

2018 LOSSES: Jordan GRANT (Mackay Cutters), Jack LITTLEJOHN (Salford Red Devils), Kyle LOVETT (Leigh Centurions), Jeremy MARSHALL-KING (Canterbury Bulldogs), Ava SEUMANUFAGAI (Cronulla Sharks), Junior TATOLA (South Sydney Rabbitohs), James TEDESCO (Sydney Roosters), Aaron WOODS (Canterbury Bulldogs), Matt BALLIN, Justin HUNT, Jamal IDRIS (all retired), Joel EDWARDS, Ryland JACOBS (both released)

How do the Tigers of 2018 line up? Your guess is as good as mine

At last, Tigers fans can look forward to Teamlist Tuesdays! The club has gone through an unprecedented roster overhaul and overall look to have a much stronger team and squad.

With so many new faces and so much competition for spots, who gets the nod come the 10th of March 2018? Most positions at Wests Tigers have been locked down due to lack of competition and not really earned over the last 6 years. For the first time in a long time, picking the Tigers’ best 17 is a headache for positive reasons.

Gone are the days of having a halfback, an 18 year old with 80 minutes of NYC footy and an 18 year old straight out of school competing for a Round 1 spot.

The make up of the 17 will be sure to generate a lot of discussion but let’s have a look at the options and possible lineups the club could field at the start of March.

Possible NRL
1. Tu’imoala Lolohea, 2. David Nofoaluma, 3. Taane Milne 4. Moses Suli, 5. Malakai Watene-Zelezniak, 6. Josh Reynolds, 7. Luke Brooks, 8. Russell Packer, 9. Jacob Liddle, 10. Ben Matulino, 11. Chris Lawrence, 12. Chris McQueen, 13. Elijah Taylor; 14. Esan Marsters, 15. Alex Twal, 16. Sauaso Sue, 17. Matt Eisenhuth

Possible Intrust Super Premiership
1. Watson Heleta, 2. Mahe Fonua, 3. Tony Tali, 4. Kevin Naiqama, 5. Corey Thompson, 6. Tyson Gamble, 7. Benji Marshall, 8. Tim Grant, 9. Matt McIlwrick, 10. JJ Felise, 11. Michael Chee Kam, 12. Robbie Rochow, 13. Josh Aloiai

– Tui Lolohea gets first crack at the fullback spot. Lolohea has played more NRL games at fullback than any other position. With Cleary and the addition of Brett Hodgson, Lolohea should have no problems improving his fullback play and goalkicking. It remains to be seen if the club will bring in another capable fullback option (2 top 30 roster spots free) or if the likes of Naiqama, Nofoaluma, Thompson and Marshall are viewed as adequate back up.

– David Nofoaluma owns the number 2 jersey while Moses Suli and his metre-eating was sorely missed at the back end of the year. Taane Milne will be in a battle with Kevin Naiqama, Mahe Fonua, Esan Marsters and Malakai Watene-Zelezniak for a centre spot. For now, MWZ’s impressive finish to 2017 gets him over the line to start Round 1.

– Josh Reynolds and Luke Brooks will start as the halves but the Tigers enter 2018 with halves depth like they have never had. Benji Marshall and Tui Lolohea are more than capable if there are injuries while Tyson Gamble will put pressure on the big boys as well in his first year at the club.

– Jacob Liddle is back training after double shoulder surgery and when fit will likely win the 9 jersey, as he did before injury this year. With Liddle fit, it seems unlikely Cleary would carry another specialist hooker as it appeared he was reluctant to use McIlwrick once Liddle won the starting job. Cleary could play an extra forward off the bench and have Elijah Taylor fill the dummy half role for 15-20 minutes, as he has done on a number of occasions. Under Jason Taylor, this didn’t work. Mainly because Elijah Taylor was used as the link in attack. Ivan Cleary has said the style will again change for 2018 but given Matt Eisenhuth’s ability to play a similar role, moving ‘ET’ to dummy half would likely not have the same negative impact it did 12 months ago.

– There is forward depth at the club in 2018 for the first time in a very long time. Kiwis Russell Packer and Ben Matulino reunite to lead the team while a backrow of Chris Lawrence, Chris McQueen and Elijah Taylor would give the Tigers an experienced forward pack as well as experience in both edge forward positions, something the team really lacked in 2017. A full strength squad could see the likes of forwards Michael Chee Kam, Tim Grant, JJ Felise, Josh Aloiai and Robbie Rochow all turn out for ISP next year. All 5 played NRL in 2017.

– On the bench, Matt Eisenhuth and Alex Twal have won out here due to their impressive debut seasons while Sauaso Sue should benefit from not being moved around all preseason, as he has been for the last 3 years. Esan Marsters wins a bench spot as the utility, purely for balance. Marsters can cover the backs, the back row and has the skill to slot in at five-eighth if a reshuffle is required. His inclusion would round out a bench which has size, skill, impact and work rate. This bench especially works well if Elijah Taylor is seen as the back up hooker.

Regardless of the final lineup, it’s great that there is competition for places from 1-17. Even in 2005, 2010 and 2011, the Tigers’ depth was suspect. This may well be the deepest squad the club has had. Bring on 2018.

Ins: Mahe Fonua (Hull FC), Tyson Gamble (Redcliffe Dolphins), Tu’imoala Lolohea (midseason – New Zealand Warriors), Benji Marshall (Brisbane Broncos), Ben Matulino (New Zealand Warriors), Chris McQueen (Gold Coast Titans), Taane Milne, Russell Packer (St George-Illawarra Dragons), Josh Reynolds (Canterbury Bulldogs), Corey Thompson (Widnes Vikings), Alex Twal (midseason – Parramatta Eels), Malakai Watene-Zelezniak (midseason – Penrith Panthers)

Outs: Matt Ballin (retired), Mitch Moses (midseason – Parramatta Eels), Jordan Rankin (midseason – Huddersfield Giants), Ava Seumanufagai (Cronulla Sharks), James Tedesco (Sydney Roosters), Aaron Woods (Canterbury Bulldogs), Justin Hunt (retired)

Re-Signed: Josh Aloiai (end of 2019), Luke Brooks (end of 2019), Michael Chee Kam (end of 2019), Jacob Liddle (end of 2019), Matt McIlwrick (end of 2019), Moses Suli (end of 2020), David Nofoaluma (end of 2021)

Off Contract: Joel Edwards, Jordan Grant, Watson Heleta, Jamal Idris, Ryland Jacobs, Jack Littlejohn, Wes Lolo, Kyle Lovett, Bayley Sironen, Junior Tatola