2007 season preview: Wests Tigers

As defending Premiers, the Wests Tigers would have been disappointed with the 2006 season, but perhaps karma eventually caught up with them.

One of the major factors behind the Tigers winning in 2005 was their brilliant fortune with injuries. This took a battering from the first tackle of 2006 when Liam Fulton dislocated his shoulder and required a reconstruction.

Throughout the year several other players suffered injury, most notably five-eighth Benji Marshall, who sustained a hairline fracture of the cheekbone and watched most of the season from the sidelines after again doing his shoulder.

Brett Hodgson, Scott Prince, Robbie Farah and Paul Whatuira all spend time on the injured list as the Tigers stumbled to only 10 wins from 24 games, never managing to win more than two in a row.

One of the upsides of suffering injuries is the necessity to blood younger players and the Tigers will be pleased that the likes of Ben Jeffrey and Taniela Tuiaki saw regular first grade last year.

But 2007 will be a difficult assignment for the Tigers after several significant player losses. In the engine room the Tigers have shed stalwart John Skandalis (Huddersfield) from the club along with under-rated forward Anthony Laffranchi who has joined new franchise Gold Coast Titans.

They have also let go a couple of young hooker/halfback utilities in Isaac De Gois and Rangi Chase who have gone in search of first grade berths.

Playmaker Scott Prince has also headed north to the NRL newcomers and is probably the most significant loss to the club. Prince and Marshall had formed a very tight bond at the base of the scrum and it