Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Round 24 team analysis: V Canterbury Bulldogs

Wests Tigers will jump into Thursday night action this week when they tackle Canterbury in a clash that sees the Tigers playing for nothing but pride and respect. It's been a month since the two sides clashed, on that day the Tigers stunned the Bulldogs 46-18. However a lot has changed since then and the match up this week shapes as a very different affair.

For Wests, their confidence has been shattered in the past 2 weeks with back to back thrashings at the hands of the Roosters and Cowboys. The manner of defeat a particular concern. The effects of off field drama's and an ever growing injury toll combining to leave the club low on morale, something prop Keith Galloway admitted on Monday.

For the Bulldogs confidence is significantly higher after they held on to the points in a controversial win over arch rivals the Eels last Friday night. The loss of Josh Reynolds and now Sam Kasiano is a blow for the doggies but their side certainly retains much of its quality and importantly plenty of confidence. The Bulldogs will also be keen to avenge the earlier result versus the Tigers and will fancy their chances this time around.

Team news sees Wests name a fairly similar side to the one last weekend. Kurtis Rowe will be looking to make amends for a stinker in tough conditions, whilst Jy Hitchcox will get a second game following his debut last weekend. Mitchell Moses is named in the 6 shirt for the first time officially, having played there last weekend wearing the number 1 shirt. The Tigers do lose Keith Lulia and Dene Halatau to injury and there are fears Aaron Woods could yet join them. Woods is waiting for the results of scans on an injured knee.

The good news is that Bodene Thompson returns to the side after serving his suspension. Thompson will replace Halatau in the second row. The club will also hope that Pat Richards can be a late inclusion with the big winger hopeful of a return when quizzed over the weekend.


1. Kurtis Rowe 2. Jy Hitchcox 3. Blake Austin 4. Chris Lawrence 5. Cory Paterson 6. Mitchell Moses 7. Luke Brooks 8. Aaron Woods 9. Robbie Farah 10. Keith Galloway 11. Curtis Sironen 12. Bodene Thompson 13. Adam Blair

Interchange: 14. Ava Seumanufagai 15. Martin Taupau 16. Sauaso Sue 17. Jack Buchanan

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Pride and Accountability all that matters as Tigers look to 2015

The 48-4 loss to the Sydney Roosters on Saturday night officially ended the Wests Tigers finals hopes. With the 2014 season now a matter of academics and pride, attention will now turn to the future. Top of that list is undoubtedly the future of Coach Mick Potter. Potter who is off contract at the end of the season faces an extremely doubtful future but one that could still see the club re-sign him at season's end.

Wests need to decide Potter's future based on two key factors. First is the fact that under 2 years with Potter there has been endless speculation over his ability to coach and whether he is the man for the job moving forward. Now some of this speculation has proven false but there's also been an admittance from Potter and the club that there are things that he needs to improve on. So the club must work out whether he is the best man going forward for the job, or if there is someone else available who they feel could do a better job taking the team forward.

The other point of interest that should be taken into account is the performance of the team earlier in the season. Wests played some pretty good football earlier in the season and there's little doubt that injuries and internal strife have both played their parts in a real ordinary past month. Where the club needs to weigh things up though is whether this good patch of form with a stronger side outweighs the dramas Potter and the club have been through this past two seasons. Essentially the club isn't necessarily wrong if it decides a fresh start is in the clubs best interest. A lot of baggage has been collected in the past two seasons.

On field i don't expect a lot to change moving forward. Mitchell Moses should retain the number 6 jersey for the remainder of this season as this is in the clubs best interest for the long term. Doubts over who should play fullback though are concerning. Kurtis Rowe had a disappointing game in tough conditions on Saturday night and for the sake of winning games the idea of moving Moses back to fullback is worth considering.

The good news is that Bodene Thompson will return this week versus the Bulldogs and Pat Richards is hopeful of joining him. It'll be interesting to see whether Jy Hitchcox retains his position in the squad after a solid debut performance in which he was rewarded with a try. Could Hitchcox move to fullback?? So long as he's allowed to remain in the team it could well be worth a shot should Richards and Thompson return.

On the downside though comes news that Aaron Woods picked up a knock to his knee on Saturday night. Whilst it's not considered serious, Woods will be in some doubt for Thursday night's fixture. The loss of Woods would be poorly timed with a match up against the Bulldogs up next.

When all is said and done though, it's now not really a case of results for the club. Pride and accountability are the two things that do matter. The capitulation on Saturday night was one that simply shouldn't be tolerated. Defensively Wests were real poor in the middle of the park. So this is something that must improve in the final 3 matches. 

In fact pride and accountability are something the entire club, from players to those officials in key positions should be looking to better themselves at not only in the final 3 matches but in the future too. This club has a long way to go before it's back where it should be.

Enough is enough Tigers. You've been warned!

It's plain and simple to see that Wests Tigers need to do a better job. Now, on the field you expect this to be the case with a young roster. Even more so when the likes of Robbie Farah, Aaron Woods, Braith Anasta and Pat Richards have missed games this season. You expect the ups and the downs and yes that has happened. 

However, ever since the Tigers put the Bulldogs to the sword 4 weekends ago, something has gone completely wrong. The coaching staff and the players have rightfully done as you would expect and taken fault for the declining form. After all, they are the ones who catch the passes and make the tackles, or in the case fail to catch and tackle. But is it really as simple as this for Wests Tigers?

Of course not!

Sure the players are the ones suffering right now, and the fact that so many players are missing at the moment due to injury has only made things worse, but the players and their form in my opinion are the by product of a far greater problem. It's a problem that we all, as Wests Tigers supporters are fully aware of.

You don't need to be Einstein to work this one out. But the fall out of that from the July 20th clash with the Bulldogs has done all the damage that was needed. Forget Robbie Farah's historic mention to Gordon Tallis that coach Mick Potter was in over his head early in 2013. The root of this problem is once again the Wests Tigers boardroom.

Our board decided it would be a good idea to conduct a review of the footballing operations. They claim this had nothing to do with Mick Potter's ability to coach, and perhaps it didn't. Part of the review also had players and officials revealing information on the football operations. Reportedly some of that information put in to question Mick Potter's ability to lead the team going forward.

Forget the results of the review though. They're not really important here. However, who's crazy idea was it to launch a review mid season?? If it involves the players, that all we need to know that it was a bad idea. How could it possibly be a good idea given the past drama's over Potter's position in late 2013? That's right! It's was a STUPID idea! It was always doomed and certain to create upheaval. 

The results of the review were always meant to be internal but these days we all know that this information becomes public. At Wests Tigers, we have a consistent track record of finding information being leaked publically. Some claim to know who the person leaking information is. Well, name and shame people! Name and shame! As far as i'm concerned this person is a dirty rodent who should have nothing to do with our proud club. I don't even care who they are? What's clear is they don't have the best interest of our club at heart. If they want to dish the dirt publically then they can expect the backlash as well. It's only fair.

Back on July 20th it was reported that Mick Potter would be sacked if the Tigers had lost the game that day. Even with a win it became clear Potter could still be sacked. A board meeting at Wests Ashfield was supposed to seal his fate. However the board backtracked and deferred a decision on Potter till season's end. A time in which Potter contract will expire anyways. Conveniently now Potter could fall off the back of the truck without much fanfare and the club could come out with a convenient line such as "we've decided to move in another direction". Right, thanks Mick!

In some ways Mick Potter's position is almost untenable. How do you work with a board whose knifed you in the back 2 years running?? The hope is that with an NRL influenced independent board that some sense will be knocked into the heads of those who remain and Potter is kept on. But is the damage done repairable?? I'm not so sure it is.

In the past 24 hours, Wests Tigers fans have had enough. They are sick of this shit! The board and CEO's response in the past week or so has been grossly inadequate. It almost reeks of "not giving a toss because we'll be replaced by an NRL led boardroom anyways". It was one thing to fail to back up your Captain in his time of need. But to fail to back up and support the very club you run is mindless! It's completely insane.

We Wests Tigers fans are sick of it because we've been here before. We've heard all the excuses! We've heard all the so called pipe dreams of better days ahead. Yet we're still to see them! Am i the only who was embarrassed by our clubs video's during the week? It looked like the club going cap in hand and begging for support. Guys! You already had our support, and always will!

What we want is a club who is decisive off the field. A club that is strongly led by a determined board with a nous for running a successful football club.  If that happens, the results WILL come on field. The past month has been the complete opposite of that, and it won't be tolerated any more! We're sick of it!

Grant Mayer and the boardroom ought to take notice right now. Enough is enough! The politics within our club are killing it to the core. If we're not careful, this once in a lifetime crop of talent will go without a premiership, all because the club was too dumb and too distracted to even bother.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Round 23 team analysis: V Sydney Roosters

It's hard to imagine things getting any worse than they did last Saturday night in Townsville as Wests Tigers turned in what will likely rank the worst performance by a Tigers side in it's 15 year existence. Words probably didn't do it justice. It had to be seen to be believed. Ominously the Tigers now face the task of picking up the pieces against premiers the Sydney Roosters this Saturday night at Leichhardt Oval.

Wests were down on troops up in the tropics and it showed as the Cowboys targeted the Tigers weaknesses to great effect. To make matters worse the Tigers capitulated! Perhaps it was a bad night and perhaps the drama's of the past couple of weeks had taken it's toll?? Either way it was ugly viewing as the defence was non existent and the side committed the most basic handling errors imaginable.

Amazingly the club this morning went to the trouble of posting a plea for fans to support the side this weekend as it battles a season seemingly long lost but remarkably still hanging by the finest of threads. The visit to Leichhardt Oval this weekend of the Roosters is daunting to say the least. Whilst their form hasn't been great, there's little to report on the injury front and the prospect of a determined backline tormenting the Tigers on Saturday night is a very realistic prospect.

In team news the Tigers lose the services of yet another back in Tim Simona who sustained a knee injury on the weekend. He's replaced by another back rower in Cory Paterson. This makes it 4 weeks in a row a back rower has been named in the backs for the club. Kurtis Rowe holds his wing spot after a tough night in Townsville. In the forwards Keith Galloway at least returns to the side once more. His inclusion forces Ava Seumanufagai back to the bench with Jack Buchanan the man to miss out. Sitaleki Akauola also returns on the bench after serving a one match ban.

For the Tigers to win this game it's hard to see where it will come from. Simply improving their basics will be a great place to start though. The ball handling was atrocious last weekend and the tackling was not much better. These are two areas the club must improve dramatically if they're to even compete with the Roosters.

 If ever the cliche "we're focusing on ourselves this week and not the oppostion" was relevant than this week is certainly one of those weeks. The Tigers really do just need to focus on the basics. Completing sets, talking in defence and playing disciplined football. The Leichhardt faithful will respond and do their bit. So long as the players do theirs.

You do get the feeling though that our chances of winning this one come down to which Roosters side turns up. They've been average for most of the season and only their quality has seen them keep pace with the front runners. However this week it's hard to see how the Tigers could possibly beat them. There's just too many players missing and just too much talent on the other side of the ball.


1. Mitchell Moses 2. Kurtis Rowe 3. Tim Simona 4. Bodene Thompson 5. Keith Lulia 6. Curtis Sironen 7. Blake Austin 8. Aaron Woods 9. Robbie Farah 10. Keith Galloway 11. Adam Blair 12. Dene Halatau 13. Sauaso Sue

Interchange: 14. Ava Seumanufagai 15. Martin Taupau 16. Sitaleki Akauola 17. James Gavet

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Tigers hit the lowest of lows

Wests Tigers fans. Just when you thought you could relax again after a tough fortnight of rumours, lies and scandal comes the sledgehammer. Just like a freight train out of nowhere! Saturday night's 64-6 embarrassment at the hands of the North Queensland Cowboys hit harder than many would've expected. It's safe to say....the Wests Tigers have hit rock bottom!

Saturday night's performance wasn't just the worst performance of 2014 for Wests Tigers. It was perhaps our worst performance ever?? Further more, i don't remember seeing much worse in any game of NRL......EVER! It Seemed that every possible mistake in the book was made. In some cases it would've been easier not to make the mistake, yet somehow we made it.

Now it's probably fair to suggest that the harder we tried, the worse things got. Once we were in over our heads, there was no easy way out. it certainly didn't help that once more we were left with a spare parts team that saw Cory Paterson play on the wing. It's also fair to suggest the Cowboys played very well and more than likely would've still won that game no matter who we had on the field.

However none of that really matter from a Wests Tigers point of view. We still had a decent side out there and the overall performance was abysmal! Defensively we failed to do many of the little things right. That resulted in tries being conceded with the ultimate ease. In some respects it almost looked as if the Tigers just weren't interested in tackling. Whilst i refuse to accuse the side of lacking effort, at times you could be forgiven for wondering what if??

Defensively the application just wasn't there. We were too slow in our line speed, communication appeared an issue (not surprisingly given the makeshift team) and our forwards failed to even go near matching the Cowboys. Now to be fair once the early onslaught occurred and the Tigers found themselves tackling on a regular basis. Grappling back control of the game was never going to happen. To the Cowboys credit they kept their intensity up for the majority of the game.

Our attack fared little better. Thanks to Aaron Woods for temporarily restoring respect with his try, outside of that though, things were a complete shambles. I lost count at the amount errors we made in attack that resembled an under 6's match. This was real poor stuff and there are NO excuses for it. Sure we've had a tough season at times, but so have the Sharks and look at the performance of their men yesterday. The Tigers could learn a thing or two from the gummys.

All this being said, there's now no point on looking back. It's best that we condemn this one to a long lost galaxy and just forget about it. Saturday's home game versus the Roosters looms as even more concerning based on our Townsville debacle.  For that very reason though i think it's crucial the fans get out and support the team. There's no doubt Wests Tigers have been put through the ringer in 2014 and the cracks have well and truly shown.

We've heard the players say time and time again about how crucial our support is. More than ever right now, they need us! The club is struggling. The team is struggling. The boys are trying their best but right now they're swimming against the tide and drowning. Wests Tigers need our support more than ever. If you can get out to Saturday nights game, please do it. If this club means as much to you as i think it does, then you'll want to be there for the team. Even if we cop another belting, being there for the team is all that matters now.

We're in this together.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Round 22 team analysis: V North Queensland Cowboys

Wests Tigers travel to Townsville this weekend where they'll meet the Cowboys this Saturday night in what shapes as almost certainly a last chance saloon showdown for the Tigers. Monday night's loss to the Melbourne Storm was the Tigers fourth loss from its last five matches and leaves Wests precariously placed with just five matches remaining.

In team news this week there's almost nothing to report, with the same 17 players named to tackle the Storm named again. However there will be guaranteed changes to this weeks team. For starters Bodene Thompson, named in the centres again, is a fair chance of accepting a 1 match ban and will need replacing. Winger Pat Richards is highly doubtful due to a hamstring injury suffered on Monday night. Halfback Luke Brooks is also no sure thing to take the field this weekend either due to a shoulder injury.

In fact it's almost certain that the team put on out on Tuesday afternoon was simply done so to abide by NRL guidelines. The Tigers not even 24 hours removed from their clash with the Storm and with several players short term futures in doubt due to injury or suspension simply could not confirm a likely side when it was needed for submission.

So how could Wests line up this weekend?? Well, i'm going to assume that Bodene Thompson and Sitaleki Akauola both accept one week suspensions, and that Pat Richards will at least miss this weekend's clash with his bad hamstring. I'll also assume Luke Brooks does in fact play this weekend. So a possible team could look like this:

1. Mitchell Moses,  2. Keith Lulia, 3. Tim Simona, 4. Dene Halatau, 5. Stefano Taukafa, 6. Blake Austin, 7. Luke Brooks, 8. Aaron Woods, 9. Robbie Farah, 10. Keith Galloway, 11. Curtis Sironen, 12. Sausao Sue, 13. Adam Blair.  Reserves: 14. Ava Seumanufagai, 15. Martin Taupau, 16. Jack Buchanan, 17. James Gavet

Now if Luke Brooks doesn't play I'd expect things to revert to what happened on Monday night with Sironen moving to five eighth, Austin halfback and quite possibly Joel Luani, Kyle Lovett or Jarred Farlow to move on to the bench. Seumanufagai or Buchanan would then move in to the starting side playing in the more central back row role.

At the very least the club will hope that Luke Brooks and Pat Richards will take the field, giving the side valuable quality in attack. Right now though, there's just too much uncertainty to feel confident in naming a projected 17 to take the field.  

Watch this space people!


 1. Mitchell Moses 2. Keith Lulia 3. Tim Simona 4. Bodene Thompson 5. Pat Richards 6. Blake Austin 7. Luke Brooks 8. Aaron Woods 9. Robbie Farah 10. Keith Galloway 11. Curtis Sironen 12. Dene Halatau 13. Adam Blair

Interchange: 14. Ava Seumanufagai 15. Martin Taupau 16. Sauaso Sue 17. James Gavet

Monday, 4 August 2014

Tigers in freefall as season topples over the cliff face

Last night's 28-6 loss to Melbourne Storm may not have killed the Wests Tigers finals hopes just yet, but there's a growing feeling that it may as well have. A fourth loss in five games is enough evidence to suggest that the Tigers may have just run their race for 2014.

A crippling injury toll in the backline has only hastened the process of eliminating the Tigers from the race this season. James Tedesco, David Nofoaluma, Chris Lawrence and Braith Anasta are all long term absentees.  Last night Luke Brooks was withdrawn with a shoulder injury. Winger Pat Richards lasted no longer than 40 minutes before a hamstring injury. That's six of Wests starting seven gone. In fact last night the Tigers had a second rower playing on the wing. Another second rower forced to line up in the centres. Yet another second rower lined up at 5/8.  It's little wonder Wests struggled for anything even close to resembling cohesion!

Last night Melbourne took full advantage of Wests make shift backline, exposing them with flawless execution. The Tigers shouldn't be ashamed of their efforts. The Storm simply executed brilliantly. The problem with that though is that at this stage of the season sentiment counts for little and results count for everything. Right now the results just aren't there for the Tigers. Now they aren't just running out of time, they're now also running out of troops.

Luke Brooks is some chance of playing versus the Cowboys on Saturday night, he's expected to be named. Pat Richards though may struggle to do so. Scans will determine his immediate future but with a short turn around and a trek to Townsville on the cards, even the best case scenario for Richards may him still have him at long odds to play this weekend coming.

 It's possible that yet another back rower in Dene Halatau could be forced to move into the backs this week due to the fact that he can technically play as a centre. Somewhat foolishly, according to NRL laws, The Tigers could line up with a back line that looks like this:

1. Mitchell Moses
2. Sitaleki Akauola/Tim Simona
3. Bodene Thompson
4. Tim Simona/Dene Halatau
5. Keith Lulia

The problem with the NRL's laws with the second tier salary cap is that it prevents clubs from stock piling talent. And whilst that's a good thing, common sense needs to prevail. It's completely unfair of the NRL to force clubs to play players out of position to this extent. Now in the case of last night, there wasn't much the Tigers could do. However if the NRL tells the Tigers they can't replace Pat Richards with an actual winger, all they are doing is hurting the quality of their very own product.

Now sure the Tigers are probably being taught a lesson after the mid season departures of Marika Koroibete (Storm) and Taqele Naiyaravoro (NSW Waratahs), but let's be honest here. The club has been crippled to its knees at this point with injuries to outside backs and the NRL's stance on this issue has gone too far. All they achieve is here is lessening the quality of their own product. That's a stupid thing to do really.

Either way the scenario is simple for Wests Tigers. They MUST win up in Townsville on Saturday night. A loss would end the club's season almost certainly. The Tigers are in freefall. Is anyone or anything going to stop the slide???