Wests Tigers

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A brand new coach, an bettering roster, competitors for spots, and a optimistic outlook won’t be sufficient for the Tigers to make the eight, however as with final season, they are going to be hovering across the fringe of it.

As The Roar’s NRL preview sequence for 2019 ramps up and we get in direction of the groups anticipated to be taking part in in September, the Tigers know all about solely simply lacking out.

In 2018, they wound up ninth, however with an improved angle and defensive construction, they are going to be aiming increased.

Their greatest downside final yr was an absence of point-scoring choices, and whereas that bought higher because the season went alone, they had been burnt out from their game-style over the primary six weeks.

Whereas they made an incredible begin and beat some competitors heavyweights, together with the Storm in Melbourne, they must be higher at protecting power in reserves, and guarantee they aren’t successful low-scoring video games week in and week out.

Michael Maguire will assist with that, however he, like Ivan Cleary earlier than him, is a coach who appreciates laborious work and a heavy pre-season, so whether or not they can actually alter their model sufficient to make the ladder spots up is anybody’s guess.

Given how shut 2018 was although, they didn’t find yourself far-off from the highest eight, and it’s prone to be the identical this time round.

New Tigers coach Michael 'Madge' Maguire

(AAP Picture/Brendan Esposito)

Membership truth file

Colors: orange, white and black
Dwelling grounds: Leichhardt Oval, Campbelltown Stadium, Western Sydney Stadium, Scully Park (Tamworth)
Premierships: one
Minor premierships: none
Greatest end in final 5 years: ninth
2018 end: ninth
Coach: Michael Maguire
Captain: Moses Mbye

Squad

Moses Mbye (c), Josh Aloiai, Luke Brooks, Michael Chee-Kam, Oliver Clark, Matthew Eisenhuth, Robbie Farah, Mahe Fonua, Tyson Gamble, Luke Garner, Chris Lawrence, Robert Jennings Jacob Liddle, Benji Marshall, Esan Marsters, Ryan Matterson, Ben Matulino, Sam McIntyre, Chris McQueen, Thomas Mikaele, Paul Momirovski, Zane Musgrove, David Nofoaluma, Russell Packer, Josh Reynolds, Robbie Rochow, Dylan Smith, Elijah Taylor, Corey Thompson, Alex Twal

Adjustments
Ins: Oliver Clark (Penrith Panthers), Robert Jennings (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Ryan Matterson (Sydney Roosters), Sam McIntyre (promoted), Thomas Mikaele (promoted), Paul Momirovski (Sydney Roosters), Zane Mugrove (South Sydney Rabbitohs)
Outs: JJ Collins (Canberra Raiders), Pita Godinet (Villeneuve), Tim Grant (Penrith Panthers), Tuimoala Lolohea (Leeds Rhinos), Matt McIlwrick (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Taane Milne (New Zealand Warriors), Kevin Naiqama (St Helens), Sauaso Sue (Canterbury Bulldogs), Malakai Watene-Zelezniak (Penrith Panthers)

The Tigers have made loads of modifications for the 2019 season, and there’s loads of potential within the recruits, however on the entire, it’s laborious to say they outweigh the losses.

Robert Jennings is a late pick-up from Souths who will add loads of depth within the again line and guarantee at the least one common first grader misses out, whereas Ryan Matterson will slot straight into the back-row.

Paul Momirovski can also be a welcome addition to the surface backs, whereas hard-hitting ahead Zane Musgrove joins and can add some actual muscle. Oliver Clark has proven potential in decrease grades at Penrith as effectively.

In the meantime, an underperforming Tuimoala Lolohea has left, but it surely’s Sauaso Sue – the large front-rower certain for Canterbury – who may very well be their greatest loss.

The backline may even look very totally different with out Malakai Watene-Zelezniak, Taane Milne and stalwart Kevin Naiqama, whereas Matt Mcilwrick, JJ Collins, Pita Godinet and Tim Grant have all discovered new properties.

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Funnily sufficient, most of the gamers leaving had poor 2018s, so whereas there are some good names there, it’s a transparent the signal the membership is chopping the useless wooden.

Backbone
Sole captain Mbye is definite to line up at fullback, he has the potential be the x-factor.

Whereas no he isn’t among the many greatest quantity 1s within the competitors, he’s a particularly gifted participant, has nice imaginative and prescient and a operating recreation which is tough to match.

He’ll must be at his greatest although, with questions over his defence, and the remainder of the backbone.

Moses Mbye of the Tigers.

(AAP Picture/Mick Tsikas)

Robbie Farah will put on the quantity 9 jumper, after a return to kind final yr.

He wasn’t at his profession greatest, however was nonetheless sturdy, and a mixture with the quickly bettering Jacob Liddle – who will probably be beginning hooker as soon as Farah hangs up the boots – leaves the aspect harmful there for the complete 80 minutes.

The questions lie within the halves although, as a result of three good gamers merely don’t slot in two spots.

Josh Reynolds was injured for a lot of 2018, however he was one in every of their marquee signings. Add the advance of Liddle, and the previous Bulldog absolutely can’t play from the bench.

With Luke Brooks sure to have one spot, it’s laborious to see a spot within the 17 for veteran Benji Marshall – as a lot as most followers would like to see him go round once more after a managed 2018.

Backs
Robert Jennings was oh-so harmful outdoors Greg Inglis final yr and will have an analogous mixture this yr with the Esan Marsters.

Marsters, who might effectively tackle the goal-kicking duties, will line up within the centres with Mahe Fonua, who had an unimaginable comeback from damage in 2018.

The duo are lethal, and will make their wingers look excellent, with Corey Thompson prone to snare the ultimate spot.

The one actual query is whether or not David Nofoaluma will get a run, however I’d wager that with Maguire’s stout defensive insurance policies and the Tigers wingers’ famous points in that space, he will probably be watching on from New South Wales Cup for a short while.

Forwards
Ryan Matterson is a powerful signing and can add to a quickly bettering pack that contains a good mixture of expertise and youth.

Russell Packer and Ben Matulino kind one of many higher front-row duos. Whereas inconsistencies and the shortcoming to play large minutes linger as points, underneath Maguire, they’ve had big pre-seasons and may very well be in for large 2019s.

Veteran Elijah Taylor will begin at lock, though their depth at eight, 10 and 13 seems slim, with solely Matt Eisenhuth difficult for a spot within the beginning workforce, or prone to seize one on the bench.

On the perimeters, Matterson will slot straight in, guaranteeing Alex Twal and Chris Lawrence come from the bench, whereas I’ve gone with Josh Aloiai within the different spot. He’s hard-hitting, athletic and robust in defence – he may very well be one of many large movers in 2019.

The one different gamers who might push for spots within the 17 are Chris McQueen, Zane Musgrove and Michael Chee-Kam, who was surprisingly good final yr.

Origin influence
The Tigers would possibly escape the grasp of Origin altogether this yr. There may very well be some gamers – most notably, Luke Brooks and Moses Mbye – on the cusp, but it surely’s uncertain.

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Doubtless greatest 17
1. Moses Mbye
2. David Nofoaluma
three. Esan Marsters
four. Mahe Fonua
5. Corey Thompson
6. Josh Reynolds
7. Luke Brooks
eight. Russell Packer
9. Robbie Farah
10. Ben Matulino
11. Josh Aloiai
12. Ryan Matterson
13. Elijah Taylor
14. Jacob Liddle
15. Matt Eisenhuth
16. Alex Twal
17. Chris Lawrence

Keys to the season

Can Moses Mbye be one of the best model of himself?
I’ve a hunch Maguire goes to convey one of the best out of Mbye, who has the potential to be one of many higher gamers within the recreation, however hasn’t fairly bought there.

It wasn’t all that way back his identify was being tossed round among the many utility choices for Queensland in State of Origin. Whereas I doubt he’s going to get to that stage this yr, Mbye is strong on the again.

His defence is what will probably be underneath probably the most strain, however the Tigers had one of many worst attacking information by way of the primary half of the season, and whereas they had been successful video games, it clearly took it out of them come the tip of the yr.

Mbye should play the position of a 3rd half this yr.

Will Packer and Matulino do the job constantly?
Whereas their edge defence and scoring skill had been points final yr, higher productiveness out of the entrance may need simply seen them sneak into the eight.

By the tip of the season, Matulino averaged solely 91 metres per recreation, whereas Packer was even worse at 71. Positive, they didn’t play big minutes, however a game-by-game breakdown, their consistency was everywhere in the store – there have been a couple of occasions the place Matulino pushed 140, however others the place he barely bought over 50.

Each are on large cash, are marquee signings and may very well be among the finest combos within the competitors.

If they’ve extra of the identical points this yr, the Tigers will transfer down the desk.

Russell Packer tackled Matt Moylan

(AAP Picture/Daniel Munoz)

Reynolds or Marshall?
This is among the large components which might swing the season.

Whereas everyone knows the (albeit sometimes irritating) high quality of Luke Brooks, a few of that will have come about due to the new-found maturity and high quality of Marshall.

Identified greatest for his razzle-dazzle footy, Marshall’s wonderful kicking recreation and choice making has come on since he returned from a short stint in rugby union. Whether or not on the Dragons, Broncos or Tigers, he has been written off, however then pulled one thing out of the bag.

Now, all this optimistic speak about Marshall goes to look bizarre as a result of I’ve left him out of my 17, however that’s the best way it virtually must be on the Tigers.

Brooks have to take management of the aspect, operating the present with kicking, calling the photographs and letting Reynolds play chief ball-runner.

Reynolds was an enormous signing and as a lot because it’s forgotten amongst damage final yr, he’s a former NSW Origin participant, so has loads of expertise.

He must be strong and constant to play 25 rounds, however with Jacob Liddle within the aspect as effectively and Robbie Farah getting on in age, one of the best factor for workforce stability is Reynolds carrying 6, and doing it effectively.

Josh Reynolds Tigers trial match

Fixtures

Spherical Date Time (AEDT) Opponent Venue TV
1 Sat Mar 16 5:30pm Manly Sea Eagles Leichhardt Oval Fox
2 Solar Mar 24 6:10pm New Zealand Warriors Campbelltown Stadium Fox
three Solar Mar 31 four:05pm Canterbury Bulldogs Campbelltown Stadium 9/Fox
four Fri Apr 5 7:55pm Penrith Panthers Panthers Stadium 9/Fox
5 Thu Apr 11 7:50pm Brisbane Broncos Suncorp Stadium 9/Fox
6 Mon Apr 22 four:00pm Parramatta Eels Western Sydney Stadium Fox
7 Sat Apr 27 5:30pm Gold Coast Titans Scully Park, Tamworth Fox
eight Sat Might four 7:35pm Sydney Roosters Sydney Cricket Floor Fox
9 Fri Might 10 6pm Penrith Panthers Suncorp Stadium Fox
10 Thu Might 16 7:50pm Melbourne Storm AAMI Park 9/Fox
11 Sat Might 25 7:35pm South Sydney Rabbitohs ANZ Stadium Fox
13 Fri Jun 7 7:55pm Canberra Raiders Western Sydney Stadium 9/Fox
14 Fri Jun 14 7:55pm North Queensland Cowboys 1300 Smiles Stadium 9/Fox
15 Thu Jun 27 7:50pm South Sydney Rabbitohs Western Sydney Stadium 9/Fox
16 Fri Jul 5 7:55pm Sydney Roosters Western Sydney Stadium 9/Fox
17 Solar Jul 14 four:05pm Parramatta Eels Western Sydney Stadium 9/Fox
18 Sat Jul 20 5:30pm Canberra Raiders GIO Stadium Fox
19 Fri Jul 26 6pm Newcastle Knights McDonald Jones Stadium Fox
20 Thu Aug 1 7:50pm North Queensland Cowboys Leichhardt Oval 9/Fox
21 Sat Aug 10 7:35pm Canterbury Bulldogs ANZ Stadium 9/Fox
22 Thu Aug 15 7:50pm Manly Sea Eagles Lottoland 9/Fox
23 Sat Aug 24 5:30pm Newcastle Knights Campbelltown Stadium Fox
24 Solar Sep 1 four:05pm St George Illawarra Dragons Sydney Cricket Floor 9/Fox
25 Solar Sep eight 2pm Cronulla Sharks Leichhardt Oval Fox
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The fast breakdown
Groups to play twice: Penrith Panthers, South Sydney Rabbitohs, Sydney Roosters, Parramatta Eels, Canberra Raiders, North Queensland Cowboys, Canterbury Bulldogs, Manly Sea Eagles, Newcastle Knights
Greatest house run: Spherical 1 – Spherical three (three out of three)
Worst away run: Spherical four – Spherical 11 (5 out of seven)
5-day turnarounds: three

Fixture evaluation
To not convey the Tigers hopes down, however the fixture record hasn’t handled them kindly.

They begin with three house video games, towards the Sea Eagles, Warriors and Bulldogs, however you greatest consider they must be three from three.

From there, their season takes an disagreeable flip: Penrith-Brisbane-Parramatta-Tamworth-Sydney-Brisbane-Melbourne-Homebush.

Out of that, their ‘house’ video games are in Tamworth and Brisbane – for Magic Spherical – and whereas they do have a recreation at Western Sydney and Homebush, they don’t play any video games in Sydney the place they’re the recognised house workforce for seven weeks. That’s about as powerful because it will get.

There are some powerful video games as effectively, with the Panthers, Broncos, Roosters, Storm and Rabbitohs all included.

Their double-up record isn’t too unhealthy although, with simply three groups out of final yr’s prime eight.

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Prediction

The fixture record could be a catastrophe zone by way of the primary half of the season, however they’ve what it takes to be difficult for the highest eight once more.

The enter of coach Maguire can’t be talked about sufficient, and whereas their pre-season might effectively have been powerful, it’ll go away them in good condition for that daunting trek across the nation.

In the event that they click on early and decide up a couple of wins, with the mix of Mbye and Brooks being of utmost significance, there isn’t a cause they’ll’t sneak into finals rivalry.

However I’ve bought them in the identical kind of vary they ended up in 2018, with room for enchancment and progress in 2020.

Tenth.

Verify again in on Friday as we transfer onto the ultimate workforce I’m tipping to overlook the eight.

The sequence to this point

16th – Parramatta Eels
15th – Canberra Raiders
14th – Manly Sea Eagles
13th – New Zealand Warriors
12th – Canterbury Bulldogs
11th – Cronulla Sharks


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