Daniel Nichols looks back at the 2013 NRL season for all 16 clubs. Today he looks backs at the Wests Tigers season.
Fan Prediction: Finals
Where it Went Wrong: 7 wins in a season that again saw the Tigers miss the top 8, even the biggest Tigers fan would admit that is not good enough. This season, The Tigers only managed 2 wins away from home, which isn’t overly surprising given their error rate of over 11 per game. The Tigers youth movement showed signs at times but were often victim of bigger, stronger, more experienced sides, and at times it looked a little like men vs. boys.
This season will be remembered as the year club favourite Benji Marshall left the club, and the game, after a change in management, and coach led to the promised contract upgrade being altered. Marshall will ply his trade in Rugby next season after what was without a doubt his most disappointing season at NRL level. Once THE most exciting player in the game, he divided opinions from fans and experts alike and by the end of the season most Tigers fans seemed almost happy he was on his way.
Strike centres Chris Lawrence and Blake Ayshford had years to forget with both spending large periods of time on the sidelines through injury. Big money recruit Adam Blair had a second less than stellar season in a row, whilst the man released to the Sharks to free up money to sign Blair, Andrew Fifita played Origin and is off to the World Cup. The Tigers made the least amount of metres this season, highlighting just how much they missed former player of the year Gareth Ellis. Big name signing Braith Anasta failed to make any real impact in a struggling side and perhaps hindered the development of one of the Tiger’s famed cubs coming through the ranks, by remaining in the run on side despite a lack of form.
Robbie Farah’s injury and time out fo the squad during the Origin period hurt the side, especially since Farah become the club’s most potent attacking weapons with Benji’s drop in form. Too many of the Tigers stars spent too much time on the sideline this season for the squad to make any real impact, and those who were fit couldn’t find any consistent form. A very dissappointing year for the Joint venture side
Where it Went Right: This may sound strange considering the club finished only one spot from the bottom of the table,but this was the season the Tigers needed to have. For a few years now we have heard about the quality of the Tigers cubs coming through the system and in 2013 we got a small taste of the talent possessed by the club’s youngsters. Luke Brooks made his long awaited debut, a dream debut at that, in the club’s big win over the Dragons, whilst David Nofoaluma scored highlight reel tries for fun.
James Tedesco had a brilliant year after injury ruined his 2012 after less than a half of football, and looks like the Tigers next long term fullback. Tim Simona bucked the trend in turning down the approaches of the Sharks to remain with the Tigers and rewarded the club with some amazing football. Mitch Moses and Curtis Sironen have another year under their belts and look like big players in the club’s future.
Young forwards Ave Seumanufagai and Sauaso Sue also gave Tiger’s fans plenty to look forward to in the future in the absence of Keith Galloway for the majority of the season. Woods also proved he is a future Origin player with his workload and effort.
Mike Potter’s job looked in trouble in the middle part of the season, especially when facing criticism for benching club legend Benji Marshall, but the club stood by him and returned some much needed stability to the club. The Tigers had a horror 2013 but 2014 and beyond looks extremely bright. 2013 seemed like a building year, one the club needed to have and one it will benefit from.
Verdict: The Tigers will want to return to the finals race in 2014 and there really isn’t a reason why they shouldn’t. Farah, Galloway, Lawrence and co. should be back fit and ready to fire whilst each of the Tiger’s youngsters will be better for the experience this season. Mick Potter seemingly has the support of the board and definitely has the support of the fans and playing staff. The future looks bright for the Tigers however with young players comes the odd mistake. 2013 probably wasn’t a year of great enjoyment for Tiger’s fans but you do get the feeling 2013’s pain will be very much worth it for long term gain.
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