Rumours are getting stronger that the Tigers are about to tap Mick Potter on the shoulder, telling him his services are no longer required.
The Tigers have had a horrid year, and their roster at the beginning of the season would have many believing they would be challenging for the 8, not looking to avoid the wooden spoon (Which I believe they will) but even so, surely the events of 2013 mean Potter is not to blame for the Tigers situation.
First up, if the Tigers do, as expected, dismiss Potter, the will be paying three coaches next season. This is something I have certainly never seen before; I’d be interested to hear if this has happened previously.
The biggest story to come out of the Tigers this season has been the decline and eventual leaving of Tigers legend Benji Marshall. Surely no one at the beginning of the season could have guessed that come season’s end the Tigers would lose arguably their greatest ever player (Wests Tigers player, not including Balmain).
Benji’s lack of quality performances has hurt the club greatly and has fans questioning his commitment to the team and even the sport. Potter dropped Benji to the bench earlier in the season for disciplinary or form reasons, depending on who you speak to, but named Benji back in the starting line up a week later. I believe Potter wanted to send a message to Benji to reignite him, but sadly for Tigers fans this did not happen.
Rumours surfaced that he was unhappy, and well, we all now know he’s off to Rah Rah next season. Is Potter to blame? Has Benji simply run his course at the club? Fans seem split; personally I believe the move is best for club and player. Either way tho, the Tigers have been without the form of their best playmaker pretty much all season.
Injuries have also been horrible for the Tigers this season. Star prop Keith Galloway has been out for weeks, Lote Tuqiri hasn’t played a single minute, Tim Moltzen was injured very early in the season and the continued injury problems for Lawrence, Farah, Woods and co. certainly do not help. Surely Potter is not to blame for these injuries?
It’s also VERY clear that the Tigers are in a transition period. They moved Beau Ryan and Chris Heighington on to the Sharks at the end of last year, they said goodbye to long-time coach Tim Sheens and this season they have extended and upgraded possibly the NRL’s best young crop of talent.
Blake Ayshford joined the Tiger Sharks for 2014 and rumours have it Braith Anasta, Moltzen and possibly Chris Lawrence are on their way out also. Tuqiri looks like he will retire and Utai, Reddy and Groat, amongst others look like they will not be re-signed.
2013 looks like a transition year for the Tigers, with youngsters being blooded for the future. It’s almost a travesty that Potter won’t be there to reap the rewards of 2013’s pain.
Tim Simona looks like a future superstar, scoring some of the best tries you will ever see. Young halves Luke Brooks and Mitch Moses, by all reports, is the next club legends, and if it weren’t for the club’s horrific injury toll leading to the full use of their second tier salary cap, the belief is both would debut before year’s end, if they hadn’t already.
The Tigers have also been extremely active in the signings department adding Blake Austin, Keith Lulia, Martin Taupau, and bringing back former Tigers Pat Richards and Dene Halatau. It looked like, for all intents and purposes that the Tigers were looking forward to a stellar 2014 with Potter at the helm.
Without knowing what is going on behind the scenes, it really looks like 2013 is purely a building block to the future. Hard decisions have been made, club legends who look to have peaked, have been moved on and some of the most exciting talent on the scene re-signed. Potter looked like the man to lead that talent into the future but sadly it looks like it will not be the case.
On the surface Potter looks like he was fed to the wolves, and has filled in for a season until the Tigers could sign a long term coach but you have to believe this was not the case due to his 2 year contract. The names of Trent Barrett and Nathan Brown have been thrown around. I believe Barrett is a future long term NRL coach, but Neil Henry’s name will likely come up also.
I think Potter has been a victim of circumstance, a horrible injury toll, the looking to the future, the horrible form of his best playmaker, and a big player turnover from previous years. I honestly didn’t see his rumoured sacking coming and am very surprised. I hope for the fans of the club the Tigers have a better 2014 or they may find themselves paying 4 coaches by mid next year