NRL 2017 season preview: Wests Tigers
, 20 Feb 2017 Keith Sheldon is a Roar Pro
Jimmy Smith’s way-too-early NRL season 2017 predictions
It only took over a whole chuffing season but it is finally over. Finally, we can watch a Wests Tigers game without the announcers mentioning the Farah and Taylor feud eight million times.
Yes, Jason Taylor has finally axed Robbie Farah before Farah could do the same to him and now moves into 2017 with his focus on this young side of his.
You know, I actually think 2016 was a good year for the Tigers. Yeah, they missed the eight, but they only just missed it and this was despite the antics of Farah and Taylor presumably distracting the playing group.
James Tedesco stamped his class on the game while Mitchell Moses finally began to demonstrate his class and their young forwards started to show promise.
However, they didn’t make the eight. Now that Farah has finally left the club that he has been so entwined in for all of these years, will the Tigers flourish like Jason Taylor has been claiming? Or will they once again fail to make the finals?
James Tedesco. Do I even need to say anything else? He is the best fullback in the game and if you think otherwise, congratulations, you are wrong.
He reminds me of a 2005-2008 Brett Stewart. He is stupidly fast but also has the ability and smarts to create point-scoring opportunities at a whim. A wonderful player who seems to have got over those injuries of his. The Tigers better hope he re-signs with them.
As stated before, Mitchell Moses finally started to carry on in first grade in 2016. He still has the defensive capabilities of a wet noodle which will really needs to be sorted out if he wants to become a great player, but he is finally demonstrating his potential. He set up some brilliant tries last year and seemed to be getting more confident in attack each game.
This is a relatively decent all-round pack. Last year saw the growth of a lot of the younger forwards into decent first graders. Aaron Woods may be a bit of a ‘stat fraud’ at times but he is still making all of those metres and tackles.
I like their second row of Josh Aloiai, Chris Lawrence and Elijah Taylor who was excellent for the Tigers last year and probably their best buy of the season despite only being there for a couple of games.
Unlike in the first half of the year I don’t think the bench will take too much away from this pack. It isn’t a world-beater pack but it sure isn’t useless like it was a few years ago.
Jamal Idris is an incredibly frustrating player to watch play for your team. He can just be so damn lazy and disinterested in playing, so have fun with that, Tigers fans.
Meanwhile, Jordan Rankin is not a winger. He is a below-average playmaker at best, but looks like with Tim Simona’s betting-related suspension he will be stuck playing on the wing, and he proved he is not a good enough winger with the positional problems and his errors under the high ball that he demonstrated last year.
I have already praised Mitch Moses’s attack and criticised his defence. Now, I am going to criticise both the attack and defence of Luke Brooks. Ever since his admittedly great debut game, Brooks has completely stagnated in his development.
He is barely a first grade half at this point. Heck, at a lot of clubs he wouldn’t be a first grade half, and he seems like he has a bit of an ego considering his rumoured ridiculous asking price to re-sign with the Tigers. He is not a good enough player to guide this team to success, in my opinion.
Luke Brooks argues about having to leave the field with concussion
But the biggest issue with this club seems to be the attitude of it.
Last year, the Tigers could and should have made the eight, however when push came to shove they allowed themselves to be shoved. For example, in Round 26 they had a match against the Raiders with a chance to make the eight if they won.
They let the Raiders score 52 points.
And their display against Penrith two rounds earlier was equally as bad. And while they were missing Tedesco, that doesn’t excuse the terrible attitude of the club.
Also, I have huge questions over their coach. He finally has the Farah-less squad he wanted, but Taylor really hasn’t demonstrated great form as a coach. It has to be shape up or ship out time for him, and I just think he isn’t a good enough coach to lead this side.
This is a club with a few talented players in it, but its cap management over the past few years has been bananas. They really need to make the eight this year, however I don’t think they will.
Their culture problems, relatively weak backline and poor salary cap management are really going to come back to bite them this year. I have them finishing 12th, although I could see them landing anywhere from 14th-7th considering the logjam of teams in contention for those spots.
Out of the ‘big four,’ I really hope they keep Moses and Tedesco at the very least for this club to have any future. They have all of the potential in the world, with Tedesco riding that potential and Moses finally beginning to grasp it.
2016 finish: ninth
Predicted 2017 finish: 12th
Gains: Jamal Idris, Matt McIlwrick
Losses: Josh Addo-Carr, Jack Buchanan, Josh Drinkwater, Asipeli Fine, Lamar Liolevave, Billy McConnachie, Jesse Parahi, Manaia Cherrington, Dene Halatau, Robbie Farah, Curtis Sironen, Chance Peni, Rod Griffin and potentially Tim Simona
- James Tedesco
- David Nofoaluma
- Jamal Idris
- Kevin Naiqama
- Jordan Rankin
- Mitchell Moses
- Luke Brooks
- Aaron Woods
- Matt Ballin
- Tim Grant
- Chris Lawrence
- Josh Aloiai
- Elijah Taylor
- Sauaso Sue
- Ava Suemanufagai
- JJ Felise
- Michael Chee-Kam