Conflicting reports today that winger Beau Ryan will leave the Wests Tigers and head to the Cronulla Sharks really to me sums up the way the Wests Tigers are being run at the moment.
I wrote earlier this year that I felt the biggest problem the Wests Tigers had was that they had been put together to be a smaller, mobile side that tries to out skill opposition teams, and that in 2012 they were simply playing in a competition where opposition forward packs are huge, skillful, and the Tigers simply couldn’t compete against that.
It is understandable why they went down that road. It worked for them in 2005 and it was a philosophy they simply tried to carry on every year since. The problem is, the NRL is an ever changing competition and no team can afford to get stuck on one idea. If they do, they will be left behind.
Right now the Wests Tigers look like a club that only realized it had been left behind when their season once again came to a premature end. As soon as the regular season was over there were rumours of players leaving the club, and that seems to have culminated in the likes of Chris Heighington and Beau Ryan most likely leaving the club.
The thing is, they’ve left it too late. Any players they release now to other clubs will not be replaced by quality players because all of them are signed up for the 2013 season already. At best the Tigers will need to hope that, for what ever reason, other clubs will be looking to release quality players that they can pick up.
Not exactly the best recruitment tactic.
Ryan’s release in particular is puzzling. He had by far and away the best season of his career and was easily the clubs most consistent player. When you look at some of their other outside backs, Ryan’s form in 2012 left them for dead! To want rid of a player like that seems to go against normal football logic.
There is a reason the Sharks are so eager to sign/have signed him. He gives 100% in every game and games up with some smart plays.
On top of all of that, it is forwards that the Tigers need. Releasing the clubs best winger would only make sense if he was on big money and his release would free up big money to sign some quality forwards. There are none around though!
It is really confusing and smacks of a team in panic mode.
Tigers fans are furious. They want Time Sheens gone and while I think he is still a very good coach, there are a few worrying signs.
I have no doubt that the Wests Tigers and Tim Sheens would both be better off parting ways. I think the New Zealand Warriors job is the perfect place for Sheens to continue his career.
This is all starting to feel a little Chris Anderson like though. A coach that is so stuck on an idea that, even when it repeatedly stops working, he doggedly continues to go with the same idea and starts to get left behind.
Sheens went with the idea of small, mobile forwards because that was the personnel he had at hand. It worked, once, but in the current era of monsters playing the game, it is not a competitive edge any more.
As @niles1991 on Twitter said this afternoon “every team has a premiership window, the tigers is gone”. I couldn’t agree more. The Tigers need a complete rebuild and that is unfortunate because they have Benji Marshall and Robbie Farah in their primes. Those two should be in the hunt for Premierships, especially a player like Marshall who is a great player, who has been playing at less than 100% health wise, and who has a real old school attitude to never giving up and close enough not being good enough.
Through all of their struggles, Marshall has never once sugar coated the Tigers results. He has been the first to say they have to work harder and they have to make changes. I really admire that in him.
He deserves to have a team around him that can get the job done, and right now, he hasn’t got that. You don’t get a player come along like Benji Marshall very often, and I always feel that with players of his caliber, you get say 12 shots at winning a Premiership, and everyone you don’t win is a missed opportunity.
I just don’t see where the Tigers are going with their side right now. I can’t even think of too many players over in Super League who may be able to come back and help their cause.
As I said, its just confusion. No wonder Tigers fans are furious.