Welcome to the second edition of the Wests Tigers CEO update for 2015.
On the eve of our first game of the year, I thought it would be timely to update you all on February activities at the club.
On February 26 we celebrated our Season Launch in front of 150 of our Elite Members, Corporate, Government and Community Partners. Held at Waterview, Bicentennial Park, the breakfast celebrated the beginning of a new era under Head Coach Jason Taylor. Joined on stage by hard men Aaron Woods, Marty Taupau and Captain Robbie Farah, Taylor gave the audience a typically understated insight to how the team will approach the season. JT spoke about the importance of attitude in defence and could not speak more highly of how tightknit our playing group is.
On the field, we have successfully competed in the Auckland 9’s, against the Parramatta Eels in Alice Springs and the Cronulla Sharks at Campbelltown Sports Stadium. Among a host of pleasing signs, the most enjoyable aspects of these results has been our defence and the fact we have come through unscathed. I’m sure many of you were excited to see young talent on display, far be it from me to single out anyone so far, but Kevin Naiqama is already proving a Member favourite. The battle for the back row has certainly grown some interest over the last few weeks with Lamar Liolovave, Kyle Lovett and Brendan Santi all showing promising signs. How good was Teddy in his first game back from injury!
As you would have read yesterday, Nathan Brown has been released from his contract to join South Sydney. A great move for Browny and another move by Coach Taylor to free up money to target key personnel for 2016.
The Nanna’s Berry Gate - Everybody would have thought that the Wests Tigers were making their first Grand Final appearance since 2005 after the intense media scrutiny. There is no doubt the nation-wide recall is serious, but at this point in time our players have only advised they may have eaten these berries in the specified time period, and as such we will monitor them medically like many others around the nation. Let me be clear however that the three players in question are all playing this weekend as they have shown no symptoms whatsoever.
At the Club’s Meeting of Members I gave an update on our quest for an updated training base. Following on from my message in January, this continues to be a priority for the club with the aim to announce our preferred site by no later than August this year. Basic plans have been finalised but the most important aspect of the project is securing funding across all forms of Government and the NRL. We are well placed as we have been overwhelmed with the support from our local councils to date. Quite simply, without council support this project may cost a local area the Wests Tigers.
The feedback from our recent Meeting of Members on February 8 has been exceptionally positive and we are committed to doing another event in 2016. The strongest show of support we received from the Members that attended was the open and transparent communication from all speakers. For those that couldn’t make the day, we released our 2015-2017 Strategic Plan. If you haven’t had a chance to view it yet, please take the time to, it can be viewed here
On the day I spoke about Membership packages, and the delays we all suffered regarding kit delivery. All membership kits are packed and sent from China and all orders prior to January have been with Australia Post since February 6. Whilst we were promised a 4-6 business day delivery timeframe our supplier has confirmed that Australia Post is conducting an investigation as to the delays endured by some Members. If you have still not received your kit and card and purchased prior to January 2015, I encourage you to email email@example.com we will re-order this for you.
The feedback from the members who have received their kits has been varied. Whilst most members are happy with the improved quality and inclusions in the core pack this year, the hat design and sizing has been the most common criticism and as such we will address both of these ahead of the 2016 season. We may even look at putting the design in to the hands of the Members and run a design competition later in the year.
Membership numbers are still continuing to grow as we approach the season and I expect to hit 7,500 financial members by Round 2. I read with interest that fans of the club continue to compare us against our competition, and whilst this is natural I reiterate and am proud to say that we are a club that sticks to the true nature of NRL membership guidelines. Our true competitor is ourselves and not the published numbers you see. One of the other indicators that has really impressed is the fact our renewal rate is higher than the previous five years. I’d like to thank you all for showing continued faith in the club through some tough times.
Since I started in this role in mid-2013, I’ve taken the time at game day to speak with many of you regarding your experiences at our games over the years. People have told me that there is nothing like Leichhardt Oval on a Sunday afternoon, nothing like Campbelltown Stadium at full capacity, or nothing like beating Manly on home soil. This has given the marketing team a game day tag for 2015. You will see ‘Nothing Like…’ be used throughout the season but I ask you all to think about the moments that stand out for you and we’d love to incorporate as many of these as possible throughout the year. Keep an eye out for opportunities over the coming weeks to provide your personal memories.
Our first home game in Round 2 is on sale, and will be launched as ‘Nothing like the first home game of the year’. This is the first time in over 10 years since the Dragons have played at Campbelltown, and the first 5,000 through the gates will receive a special Wests Tigers flag. I suggest to you all that you get there early to ensure you don’t miss out. Keep an eye out for the Club’s advertising campaign in and around our area. Bus skins, taxi advertising, radio spots are all part of the package to ensure we get a big crowd at the first game.
It wouldn’t be rugby league season here at the Wests Tigers if we didn’t have the usual debate around merchandise colours. In the main it is well intentioned but clearly some people find it difficult to embrace the fact that we are a tri-colour club. The bulk of comments do in fact come from non-Members and a lot of the time are not constructive in nature. Social media tends to be the haven for people to anonymously voice their opinions. The only opinions that matter are those of the Members.
Repeating the January CEO Update, the NRL own our logo and colours and therefore appoint the product licensees, and traditionally have approved all licensees’ ranges without club input. We provided the NRL our Brand Guidelines in January 2014 and again in November 2014. Suspecting that the NRL licensees had not been updated, we took it upon ourselves to meet with each licensee and provide them with a modernised style guide late last year. It’s our hope they now fully understand the damage caused by misrepresenting our club. In consultation with the NRL, we have had a hand in designing the Best & Less 2015/2016 Summer range but were not as fortunate to be included in the 2015 Winter range. We will continue to enforce these guidelines but expect that due to production timelines and restrictions by the manufacturers, we will not always succeed in this emotional battle. Things that appear easy are often more difficult than we would hope. My only recommendation is that people should purchase what they like and understand we are working very hard on ensuring the clubs brand is represented correctly.
I look forward to this having to be the last time we discuss mix of colours in this newsletter.
The club will wear our Home jersey (black) on 14 occasions, Alternate jersey (white) on eight occasions, ANZAC Jersey once and Heritage Jersey (2005 GF) once. Our State Cup and NYC teams will wear their Black Jersey on 17 occasions and their Heritage Jersey (stripe) on seven occasions.
Stay tuned for a special online loyalty program that will be launched in the coming month. Aimed at our many intrastate and interstate fans, the program will be another way of supporting your club whilst benefiting in the hip pocket.
With the season fast approaching, our corporate support continues to grow with the Club already ahead of the same time last year. The remaining key property is the sleeve partner which is one of the club’s highest ranking assets. At this point in time, we feel the need to stick true to this value and not be convinced of taking a short term gain.
Great news for Members and fans alike, the corporate team have been able to secure our match day magazine, Tiger Talk, for four games at Campbelltown and two at Leichhardt for 2015. Proving exceptionally popular since its inception in 2013, I trust you will all enjoy learning a little bit more about the Club, people and players involved here.
As the season expands you as Members will be offered the opportunity to benefit from some of the many discounts offered by our Corporate Partners as the season continues – we have created a special Member Exclusive offer in the weekly newsletter.
I hope this update provides you with on on-going level of comfort that the club is heading in the right direction. I hope you enjoy the footy over the weekend, and I expect to see you all at Campbelltown at Round firstname.lastname@example.org