The next controversial call the Wests Tigers must make
John Dean, FOX SPORTS
January 5, 2017 6:14pm
MANY believe the knives will be out for Wests Tigers coach Jason Taylor once again should his team not perform this year.
Even a 2015 club strategic plan claimed the upcoming season would be a failure if the team doesn’t hit the ambitious target of a top four finish.
Taylor’s endured a torrid time at the Tigers since taking over in 2014, largely due to his controversial axing of Robbie Farah.
The club are paying around $750,000 of Farah’s salary at South Sydney, which puts limits on their spending power in the player market.
That’s why this season can’t be make-or-break for Taylor or Tigers, with Fox Sports rugby league expert Ben Ikin believing the club should extend the coach’s contract beyond 2017 in order for him to fix the club’s salary cap situation and build a roster that can take the team to finals football — somewhere they haven’t been since 2011.
Tigers coach Jason Taylor during training at Concord Oval. Picture: Gregg Porteous
“I know they’re a club, like the Newcastle Knights, who have gone on the record saying their salary cap has been a mess, and I’m pretty sure it remains that way for 2017 … they haven’t got much room to move,” Ikin told the Fox Sports Market Watch off-season podcast.
“So while many are expecting the Tigers to go to the next level (in 2017), I can’t see it happening.
“I think there’s enough evidence so far to give Jason Taylor a chance to work with (Tigers CEO) Justin Pascoe across 2017 to clean up the cap and go out and buy some support for Luke Brooks, Mitchell Moses and James Tedesco.
“I would give Taylor a one-year extension now.”
Ben Ikin, Nathan Ryan and Ben Glover are back with a two-part off-season special, where they break down each team’s rosters ahead of season 2017.
Last season, the Tigers finished ninth by just one competition point and seven places up from the previous year’s result.
Livewire fullback Tedesco evolved into an excitement machine, Moses and Brooks grew as a halves pairing and skipper Aaron Woods put his name up alongside the elite props in the game.
The quartet are all off contract at the end of 2017, so the coming months loom as a crucial retention period for the club, with all four likely to attract some serious attention.
Ikin believes Taylor needs to build a squad in order to give his key players more support and until they do that, they won’t challenge the powerhouse sides in the competition.
“You can’t expect Luke Brooks, Mitchell Moses and James Tedesco at this stage of their development to go out and take this team into the top four, not with the skinny list around them,” Ikin said.
“They might get themselves into the top eight and for me, that would be a huge tick.
“2018 has to be the year when you would expect, as a board member and as a CEO, to see the Wests Tigers take some giant strides on the field, because right now it’s still early days with respect to a roster clean-up and rebuild.”
While on-field results are Taylor’s main appraisal, Ikin says key Tigers players should be consulted before a decision is made on a contract extension.
“The only other performance indicator the CEO and board will get around Jason Taylor, is whether Tedesco, Moses, Brooks and Aaron Woods, who all come off contract in 2017, stay or go.
“Of course, you would speak to the players when re-signing the coach. Every CEO and chairman would, that’s due diligence.”