Wests Tigers - 2013 Preview
2012 was meant to be the Tigers year, but a myriad of dramas saw them have the most disappointing season of all clubs. The fallout was just as dramatic. At seasons end, talk of player unrest saw Beau Ryan, Chris Heighington, Gareth Ellis, Junior Moors, Tom Humble and Dane Chisholm all change clubs.
The unrest didn't end there. Long serving coach Tim Sheens was sacked with a year to run on his contract.
It will go down as the lowest time at the Tigers since the year before Sheens was appointed as Tigers coach.
But it has also become the start of a new era at the club that fills the fans and the club with a new energy and optimism.
While the Tigers aren't considered as serious chance to win the title in 2013, they will be working on an entirely new structure, one based upon stability and structure which was completely non-existant in 2012.
The Tigers have lost a lot of experience and talent and will be looking to blood a lot of their rising stars, especially from their very successful NYC team.
Why they'll win it
Structure and stability. The Tigers have lacked both of these for quite some time, but have got by on the back of their amazing attacking prowess. Under new coach Mick Potter, the Tigers will become a team that plays for 80 minutes and builds pressure, rather than one that attempts the miracle play every set. Benji Marshall and subsequently, the Wests Tigers, perform better when there is a stable halfback.
Why they won't win it
Their forwards. The Tigers have a very light back row and little depth in the front row. They lack back rowers who can make an impact in attack and defence. While their backrow will be among the most skilful in the competition, they will struggle to make big metres.
Player to watch
James Tedesco - The young fullback only got half an hour of playtime last year in the first game of the season before suffering a season ending knee injury. He is now raring to go and looks set to become the best fullback the club has seen behind Brett Hodgson. Once his confidence builds, he will be a part of one of the NRL's strongest spines.
Rookie to watch
Jacob Miller - Although Miller has already tasted some first grade over the past two seasons, he was still a member of the Wests Tigers NYC grand final winning side last year. New coach Mick Potter was quick to elevate Miller to the starting halfback role in the NRL side, where alongside Robbie Farah and Benji Marshall, he is set to have a smooth transition into the top grade which will ensure he finds his feet very quickly.
Signings: Braith Anasta (Sydney), Jack Buchanan (St.George-Illawarra), James Gavet (Canterbury), Eddy Pettybourne (Souths), Bodene Thompson (Gold Coast)
Losses: Dane Chisholm (Manly), Gareth Ellis (Hull FC), John Grant (Rugby Union), Chris Heighington (Cronulla), Tom Humble (Penrith), Junior Moors (Melbourne), Beau Ryan (Cronulla)
1. James Tedesco 2. Marika Koroibete 3. Blake Ayshford 4. Chris Lawrence 5. Matt Utai 6. Benji Marshall 7. Jacob Miller 8. Aaron Woods 9. Robbie Farah 10. Keith Galloway 11. Adam Blair 12. Liam Fulton 13. Braith Anasta
Interchange: 14. Ben Murdoch-Masila 15. Matt Bell 16. Eddy Pettybourne 17. Bodene Thompson