Welcome to the Wests Tigers CEO Update for December 2016.
I want to start by bringing to your attention the misleading article in The Sunday Telegraph a few weeks back, hopefully you saw our response. We’re incredibly proud of the advancements we’ve made in our wellbeing programs and our good work was acknowledged by being ranked second in the NRL last season. Rest assured we will continue to invest in this area to ensure we become the benchmark across the game and ensure that everyone who enters our doors is looked after and given every opportunity to develop and thrive.
This organisation continues to demonstrate resolve and I, with the support of the Board, will not allow outside factors to disrupt the integrity of what we are all striving to accomplish, which is transforming Wests Tigers into a sustainable business that creates an elite environment for our athletes to thrive, develop and above all – win games and become a premiership contender.
The other topical news is the continual media speculation about some of our off-contract players. I can assure everyone that as a Club we are completely committed, and doing everything possible, to ensure the talent remains at the Club. The negotiations will remain behind closed doors and not be played out in the media out of respect for all involved.
With summer beginning today preparations for the 2017 NRL season are now well and truly underway.
We’ve had players back in training for almost a month now and I’m pleased to say that at this stage of the year we only have one player not back at Concord, our Captain Aaron Woods who was a part of the victorious Kangaroos team. On behalf of everyone at the Club I’d like to congratulate Aaron on the victory, enjoy your break and we look forward to seeing you early in the New Year.
We’ve almost confirmed our 2017 playing roster with a number of changes being made. I’d like to welcome both Jamal Idris and Matt McIlwrick to the Club. I had the pleasure of working with Jamal at the Panthers and I look forward to seeing him making an impact here at Wests Tigers. He’s already showing his dedication in the gym and on the field and I can’t wait to see him pull on a Wests Tigers jersey. I’d also like to welcome some new faces to our full-time squad, with Ryland Jacobs, Esan Marsters, Junior Tatola, Taniela Paseka, Matt Eisenhuth and Welsey Lolo all stepping up.
We’ve recently extended the contracts of a number of players, with Elijah Taylor, Jack Littlejohn, Justin Hunt and Rod Griffin all extending their time at the Club. I look forward to continuing to work them all.
The release of the 2017 NRL draw last week means that we’re now a step closer to next season. Our three home venues adds a level of complexity to our scheduling each year but we’re very happy with the allocation of games for 2017.
Our first home game of the year sees the team take on the Panthers at Campbelltown Sports Stadium on a Sunday afternoon, a day that we’re all looking forward to. We return to the venue in Round 14 to play the Roosters, again on a Sunday afternoon, and two weeks later the Titans come to town – we’ll be looking for a different result this time around! In Round 25 we’ll face the Cowboys with the time still to be determined.
Our home games at Leichhardt Oval begin in Round 4 with the always strong Melbourne Storm on a Sunday afternoon and then in Round 9 the premiers head to Leichhardt Oval for the first time since 2014. We have two Leichhardt Oval games still to be scheduled, Manly in Round 23 and the Warriors to finish off the regular season.
n 2017 we have some huge games scheduled for ANZ Stadium, with four home and three away clashes. Our home games begin in Round 5 against the Dragons, before we take on the Bulldogs on ANZAC weekend, the Rabbitohs for Indigenous Round and the Eels for Women in League Round. Our away games begin in round one when we clash with the Rabbitohs, before another Easter Monday blockbuster against the Eels and the Dragons in Round 13.
Next season we intend on building on the hard work we put into our home games in 2016 and take the game day experience to the next level. I encourage you to start planning now and get to as many games as you can in 2017 – we’ll be making sure they’re days to remember. It is important to note that we had the largest average home crowd of any Sydney NRL club in 2016, up from the year before, and were awarded the fourth best sporting event experience for our Campbelltown games.
As I’ve mentioned on numerous occasions our community programs are incredibly important to us at Wests Tigers and last week we were able to launch another key initiative. Earlier in the week Tim Simona, Ryland Jacobs and our Community & Fan Engagement Manager Shaun Spence travelled to Walgett in north-western NSW to launch the Wests Tigers Tackling Truancy program.
The program has been developed to assist Walgett High School in improving the attendance rates of their students, using the vehicle of Rugby League and Wests Tigers. We’re confident that this program will make a difference in the Walgett community and we look forward to welcoming some of their students to Sydney throughout the year.
At the end of October we held our first ever All Hallows Eve Charity Dinner, with over 500 guests joining us to raise money for beyondblue. This night was one to remember, with great entertainment from Kasey Chambers and The Cockroaches keeping us all on the dance floor until late in the night. I’d like to thank all of those who joined us and help make the night such a special one.
A part of this was our inaugural NYC Induction Week, it was great to see so many of our stars of the future, and their families, spending time with the Club and taking on board some of the important lessons. I look forward to seeing them develop both on and off the field.
In the last month we’ve also launched our 2017 home, away and now Auckland Nines jerseys. The response has been overwhelmingly positive and I’m happy to say that they’re all proving to be popular with shoppers. If you get a chance I encourage you to take the time to watch the story behind the Auckland Nines jersey, designed by our own Wes Lolo.
As we close in our Christmas I’m happy to say that our Membership numbers are growing at a fast rate. The support from each of you is very encouraging and we’re thankful for your commitment to the Club. In the last fortnight we launched our Members Exclusive Website, when you get a chance make sure you log in and have a look around. If you need access please contact our Membership Team, they’ll be happy to help. It is important to note here that our Membership numbers for 2016 were the highest in the Clubs’ history and we have the fastest growing Membership in the NRL – so I thank you all for your support.
Justin Pascoe, Wests Tigers CEO