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Andrew Ferguson hops on the bus to check out how the Wests Tigers are shaping up for the 2018 NRL season following a raft of off-season changes in personnel.
After what seemed like a never ending circus of drama and ineptness, the Wests Tigers in 2017 finally decided that clean out was in order. While the season itself was a write off as far as on the field results were concerned, off it they scored the services of brilliant coach Ivan Cleary and opted to put a broom through the playing roster.
They lost star players James Tedesco and captain Aaron Woods, but in return have strengthened the side across the field and in depth, finally compiling a squad full of team players.
They will be admittedly a little erratic for the early rounds as they get combinations working in a side that bears very little resemblance to their 2017 side. And that's a very good thing.
Balance. They are solid side across the field. They signed very methodically, picking up a great pair of front rowers, a new half and a number of backs, ensuring that players will have to perform to keep their place in the top 17.
Combinations - Every combination across the field is brand new and has only had off-season training to work on. It could take several games before they start to bear fruit, which could be enough to cost them a place in the top, especially given the Tigers have the toughest draw to open the season with.
Josh Reynolds - The five-eighth will bring some real passion and determination to the club in the middle of the park, while also having Origin experience, could prove to be the perfect foil for struggling halfback Luke Brooks.
Ben Matulino - The big Kiwi prop will be up front alongside Russell Packer, and the two will be given the task of making the Tigers a side who no longer is out muscled up front.
Alex Twal - Twal had a great debut season in 2017, earning a place in Lebanon's World Cup squad. Expect him to become a genuine star of this Tigers pack.
Gains | Josh Reynolds (Bulldogs), Russell Packer & Taane Milne (Dragons), Benji Marshall (Broncos), Ben Matulino (Warriors), Chris McQueen (Titans), Mahe Fonua (Hull FC), Robbie Rochow (Storm), Corey Thompson (Widnes)
Losses | James Tedesco (Roosters), Aaron Woods, Jeremy Marshall-King, Moses Suli (Bulldogs), Ava Seumanufagai (Sharks), Kyle Lovett (Leigh), Jack Littlejohn (Salford), Tevita Tatola (Rabbitohs), Mitchell Moses (Eels), Jordan Rankin (Huddersfield) Joel Edwards Retired: Matt Ballin, Justin Hunt (all released)