The Contenders: Winger

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willow
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The Contenders: Winger

Post by willow » Sun 17 Dec, 2017 7:40 pm

Courtesy of the official WestsTigers website:

The Contenders: Winger
Author: Dan Talintyre
Sat 16 Dec 2017, 10:00 PM

The battle for spots will be at an all-time high at Wests Tigers in 2018, with Coach Ivan Cleary putting together an extremely strong squad for the season ahead.

With 10 brand new faces “on the bus” for the year ahead and a great mixture of youthful talent and experience in the midst, the team that takes to the field in Round 1 against the Roosters will be vastly different from the one that ended 2017 against the Warriors.

In the “Contenders” series, we take a look at those who will battle it out for spots in 2018, and not envy the decisions ahead for Coach Cleary in selecting a team for Round 1!

Next up, we look at one of the deepest positions for Wests Tigers in 2018 — the wing — where a number of players will certainly be putting their hand up for a spot in the team.


DAVID NOFOALUMA

Age: 24

NRL Games: 87

At Wests Tigers since: 2013

It’d take a brave man to predict against David Nofoaluma not starting on the wing for Wests Tigers come Round 1, so let’s kick off this list with the Campbelltown junior after another superb 2017 season. His strong running and finishing close to the line saw him emerge as not only one of the club’s best wingers, but the entire competition, and he’ll be out to improve again come 2018. Having had two sportsman hernias removed in the off-season, the 24-year-old will be even more free in his running and could play a bigger role in the attack with Tuimoala Lolohea floating out the back at fullback. And if that wasn’t enough, the return of Benji Marshall could lead to more of this from Nofoaluma…


KEVIN NAIQAMA

Age: 28

NRL Games: 93

At Wests Tigers since: 2015

Kevin Naiqama was somewhat a victim of his own versatility in 2017 — playing fullback, left wing, left centre, right centre and right wing all throughout the year. And while he certainly handled himself with aplomb in all situations, there’s no doubting that the Fijian international is far more comfortable out wide — ending the year as the club’s leading try-scorer with nine and an average of 107 metres per game. Likely to feature as a contender in the centres too, Naiqama seemed to have a spot on the wing locked down earlier in the year before Moses Suli suffered stress fractures in his foot, which pushed him back to the centres, so we might see the 28-year-old on the wing once more. His experience is certainly a boost to have in the side, with his career record of 25 tries in 46 games on the wing slightly superior to his numbers in the centres (18 tries in 42 games).


MAHE FONUA

Age: 24

NRL Games: 50

Super League Games: 58

At Wests Tigers since: 2018

One of the new boys at Wests Tigers in 2018, Mahe Fonua leaves Hull FC as a firm fan favourite and certainly a contender for a spot on either the wing or centre in Ivan Cleary’s side. The former Melbourne Storm centre took his game to the next level in Super League — scoring 15 tries in his first season with the black and white to be named as part of the 2016 Dream Team, while also crossing in the 2016 Challenge Cup Final. If that wasn’t enough, Fonua then outdid himself the year later — grabbing two tries in the final as Hull FC went on to record back-to-back titles at Wembley. Fonua’s ability in the air makes him a dangerous target for Luke Brooks and Josh Reynolds, while his hard-hitting defence could make for an imposing force flying in off the left or right wing.


MALAKAI WATENE-ZELEZNIAK

Age: 26

NRL Games: 14

At Wests Tigers since: 2017

When Wests Tigers signed Malakai Watene-Zelezniak mid-season from the Penrith Panthers, few would have predicted him to have the immediate impact he did at his new club — especially given he had played just one first-grade game prior to the switch. However, the 26-year-old thrived in his new colours, and made the most of the opportunity handed to him by Cleary with six tries, four linebreaks and over 120 metres per game in the 13 games he featured for Wests Tigers. More importantly, Watene-Zelezniak looked better and better as the year wore on and will certainly come in to calculations for Round 1 having started pre-season trimmer and fitter than before. Superb under the high ball, Malakai is a strong carrier of the ball from his own end, and will certainly push some of the younger players in the squad for a spot in Round 1.


MOSES SULI

Age: 19

NRL Games: 16

At Wests Tigers since: 2017

The baby-faced assassin, Moses Suli showed just how bright his future at Wests Tigers in his rookie year before stress fractures in his foot ended his year after 16 games. However, in those games, the 18-year-old — yes, remember he’s only that young — grabbed two tries, six linebreaks and over 128 metres per game. He also did enough to feature in the centres in the mid-year Pacific Test for a Tongan side that would go on to shock the world just six months later at the World Cup. While more of a centre than a winger, Suli showed he was capable of slotting in to either position in 2017 — debuting, in fact, on the wing — and it’ll be fascinating to see how Cleary uses the powerhouse teenager in his second season.


COREY THOMPSON

Age: 27

NRL Games: 35

Super League Games: 52

At Wests Tigers since: 2018

We mentioned Corey Thompson as a possible contender at fullback, and it’s equally worth noting him here as a contender for the wing following his try-scoring exploits over the past two years with Widnes. Playing as both a fullback and winger in his Super League career, Thompson showed great athleticism, versatility and vision in his way to the try-line — ending 2016 as the second highest try-scorer in the competition. While not the tallest man in the squad, Thompson possesses terrific skills in the air, and with NRL experience on the wing, will certainly be in the running for a spot come Round 1.


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Post by Earl » Sun 17 Dec, 2017 9:21 pm

I reckon Nofo and Fonua get starting wing spots but MWZ may slot in there because he can attack the high ball and doesn't do much wrong.

Suli should be in the centres. The other guys will get chances based on injuries.

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Post by WTArmy » Sun 17 Dec, 2017 10:53 pm

Most likely will be Nofa & Fonua as the wingers
#RisingUp2018 :sign:

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Post by willow » Mon 18 Dec, 2017 5:41 am

Earl wrote:
Sun 17 Dec, 2017 9:21 pm
I reckon Nofo and Fonua get starting wing spots but MWZ may slot in there because he can attack the high ball and doesn't do much wrong.

Suli should be in the centres. The other guys will get chances based on injuries.
Hard to disagree. Nofo and Fonua provide plenty of hard running metres and will get our sets started on the front foot more often than not. Kev, MWZ and Thommo are depth options.

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Post by Nucky Thompson » Tue 19 Dec, 2017 8:39 pm

Malaki is looking super fit. His lost some serious kgs


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Post by gallagher » Tue 19 Dec, 2017 10:17 pm

Sulli is a contender fire wing but not Milne. Is Milne our first choice centre?

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Post by GNR4LIFE » Tue 19 Dec, 2017 10:20 pm

gallagher wrote:
Tue 19 Dec, 2017 10:17 pm
Sulli is a contender fire wing but not Milne. Is Milne our first choice centre?
You want to see Suli wasted on the wing? Neither should be a wing option. Fonua and Noffa should and most likely will get first crack. Suli and Milne are probably the centre combo.

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Post by gallagher » Tue 19 Dec, 2017 10:25 pm

GNR4LIFE wrote:
Tue 19 Dec, 2017 10:20 pm
gallagher wrote:
Tue 19 Dec, 2017 10:17 pm
Sulli is a contender fire wing but not Milne. Is Milne our first choice centre?
You want to see Suli wasted on the wing? Neither should be a wing option. Fonua and Noffa should and most likely will get first crack. Suli and Milne are probably the centre combo.
No i don't want Sulli on the wing. I didn't write the the
article.

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Post by happy tiger » Tue 19 Dec, 2017 10:34 pm

If they are even considering putting Suli on a wing they have rocks in their head

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Post by Sabre » Tue 19 Dec, 2017 11:33 pm

willow wrote:
Sun 17 Dec, 2017 7:40 pm
KEVIN NAIQAMA
...And while he certainly handled himself with aplomb...
He handled himself with what?

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Post by hobbo » Tue 19 Dec, 2017 11:48 pm

Sabre wrote:
Tue 19 Dec, 2017 11:33 pm
willow wrote:
Sun 17 Dec, 2017 7:40 pm
KEVIN NAIQAMA
...And while he certainly handled himself with aplomb...
He handled himself with what?
Confidence / style
We need mongrel ..
No more plodders !

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Post by willow » Wed 20 Dec, 2017 12:23 am

happy tiger wrote:
Tue 19 Dec, 2017 10:34 pm
If they are even considering putting Suli on a wing they have rocks in their head
Just making up numbers for the article Happy, nothing to worry about.

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Post by Pawsandclaws » Wed 20 Dec, 2017 8:25 am

Nucky Thompson wrote:
Tue 19 Dec, 2017 8:39 pm
Malaki is looking super fit. His lost some serious kgs
Thanks for the information. He must have one wing spot with Nofoaluma on the right wing. Fonua needs a good stint in ISP to drop kgs, improve his lateral movement, defence and pace.

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Post by Eddie » Wed 20 Dec, 2017 11:41 am

All solid players in their own right but we seriously lack speed.

Where going to be tough and uncompromising next year which I Love.

But you can't coach speed. Could prove a big frustration when watching us next year.

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Post by Mac tiger » Wed 20 Dec, 2017 8:17 pm

I agree with you on speed Eddie, but our attack can still be effective if we don't allow opposition defensive structures to form. Quick ptb from our better balanced pack, back up from the halves, get the ball wide and we'll have some success.

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Post by Nucky Thompson » Thu 21 Dec, 2017 9:35 pm

Pawsandclaws wrote:
Wed 20 Dec, 2017 8:25 am
Nucky Thompson wrote:
Tue 19 Dec, 2017 8:39 pm
Malaki is looking super fit. His lost some serious kgs
Thanks for the information. He must have one wing spot with Nofoaluma on the right wing. Fonua needs a good stint in ISP to drop kgs, improve his lateral movement, defence and pace.
I'm basing my comments on the photos on wt website of training. But he looks like a different person from this year's season. Anyone else notice. ? Not sure what his been doing.

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Post by sideline eye » Thu 21 Dec, 2017 11:20 pm

Nucky Thompson wrote:
Thu 21 Dec, 2017 9:35 pm
Pawsandclaws wrote:
Wed 20 Dec, 2017 8:25 am
Nucky Thompson wrote:
Tue 19 Dec, 2017 8:39 pm
Malaki is looking super fit. His lost some serious kgs
Thanks for the information. He must have one wing spot with Nofoaluma on the right wing. Fonua needs a good stint in ISP to drop kgs, improve his lateral movement, defence and pace.
I'm basing my comments on the photos on wt website of training. But he looks like a different person from this year's season. Anyone else notice. ? Not sure what his been doing.
It was said on the club's website a fair while back that Cleary told him to lose some weight before pre season began and that's just what he did. Lighter, fitter, faster is the plan for him so it looks as though he might be looked at as competing for a centre spot.

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Post by Geo. » Fri 22 Dec, 2017 5:41 am

sideline eye wrote:
Thu 21 Dec, 2017 11:20 pm
Nucky Thompson wrote:
Thu 21 Dec, 2017 9:35 pm
Pawsandclaws wrote:
Wed 20 Dec, 2017 8:25 am
Nucky Thompson wrote:
Tue 19 Dec, 2017 8:39 pm
Malaki is looking super fit. His lost some serious kgs
Thanks for the information. He must have one wing spot with Nofoaluma on the right wing. Fonua needs a good stint in ISP to drop kgs, improve his lateral movement, defence and pace.
I'm basing my comments on the photos on wt website of training. But he looks like a different person from this year's season. Anyone else notice. ? Not sure what his been doing.
It was said on the club's website a fair while back that Cleary told him to lose some weight before pre season began and that's just what he did. Lighter, fitter, faster is the plan for him so it looks as though he might be looked at as competing for a centre spot.
I think it was Marsters who was asked to trim down not Watene-Zelezniak,,he looks to have bulked up muscle wise if anything from the pics to me..
Ivan's Laws

1. You are either on the Bus or you are off..
2. The Star of the Team is the Team
3. Be the player your teammates want to play with..

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