Wests Tigers name five co-captains


In an incredible twist to the fairytale homecoming that is Benji Marshall’s return to the Wests Tigers, the veteran playmaker has been named as one of five co-captains selected by coach Ivan Cleary.

Cleary struggled to find the adequate terminology to describe how the shared leadership system would work, but essentially he will tinker with tradition as he looks to get the best out of a group of players now handed the task of setting a culture at a club looking for positive influence.

NRL.com can reveal Marshall is one of three off-season recruits who have done enough to convince Cleary they are worthy of the leadership role at the club, with former Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs five-eighth Josh Reynolds and ex-St George Illawarra Dragons prop Russell Packer among the five-man group.

Wests Tigers stalwart Chris Lawrence and Kiwi lock Elijah Taylor, the two candidates most assumed would battle it out for the sole skipper responsibility, are also part of the captaincy circle chosen by Cleary.

“I just think it’s the right model for us right now,” Cleary told NRL.com.

"When we started this pre-season it was pretty obvious straight away that there was no real pecking order. There was no set culture to adhere to. It was all new.

“That was what I wanted it to be like and that’s just how it panned out. In the absence of leadership, we didn’t have a captain so it was always going to be interesting to see where the leadership came from.”

There are more questions than answers in relation to the shared captaincy set-up now in place at the Tigers, but that’s how Cleary likes it.

He wants the players to take ownership in the rebranding of the club, and is willing to let them all share in that journey.

The members of the Tigers captaincy group will rotate the key duties from week to week in the Telstra Premiership. They will share the honour of leading the team out on to the paddock, attending post-match press conferences and juggling all the off-field responsibilities associated with the role.

What hasn’t been decided is who will be tasked with the responsibility of talking to the referees.

Cleary isn’t certain on how it will all work on the field, but is happy for nature to take its course.

He came into the pre-season open to all candidates as potential captains, however it quickly became clear there wouldn’t be a standout option.

“Leadership is very important,” Cleary said.

“It’s hard to function without it. You’ve got to have it. With this particular team at this time I think it’s going to work best to spread that role and allow those blokes to develop in their own way. If one guy ends up becoming the captain through osmosis, then great. If they don’t it’s OK too.”

Marshall is the player with the most leadership qualities, however the Tigers couldn’t select him as the sole captain given the uncertainty around where and how much he will play.

While Marshall’s selection is another chapter in what could potentially be the feelgood story of the year, the rise and maturity of Packer and Reynolds speaks volumes about their character.

Reynolds will be the heartbeat of Cleary’s team, and his energy has had a notable impact at Wests Tigers training in his first season away from Belmore.

Packer continues to impress on his road to redemption, providing a steel and toughness that will be essential in the Tigers’ quest to play finals football in 2018.

Taylor is inspirational in his actions and Lawrence is a Tiger through and through - arguably the obvious captain in the group given his history and status at the club.

But Cleary believes the characteristics and strengths of each member of his leadership entourage is what the Tigers need at this point of their development as a football team.

“They’re all pretty different,” Cleary admitted.

"They have different strengths and are at different levels, not just with their playing careers but their leadership development. I think those guys will function well together. There’ll be a nice real flow through the team and the squad rather than this real hierarchy. It was just natural. There was no pecking order.

“An NRL captain these days has a lot of stuff to do. There’s enough stories around where it effects guys negatively. There’s the extra burden and off field stuff, which is where we are at as a sport because every club is competing for corporate dollars. The captain has to be the face of the club and do this, that and the other. I think initially, sharing all those duties won’t hurt.”

Cleary did his homework on the shared leadership roles he has bestowed on his players, taking particular note of what the Melbourne Storm did with Cameron Smith.

“I did some research and it has been done before,” Cleary said.

"They did it down in Melbourne a few years ago and Cameron Smith came out of a similar system as the pick of that lot and went on to be the sole captain the year after. Michael Maguire did it Wigan when he went over there as well. I found it interesting when they did it but it’s not something I thought about doing until this year.

“I feel like with a new team, I actually want to encourage leadership on many fronts right across the board. If one captain ends up sticking his head up out of the pack, then I might go that way too. But for now, that’s what we’re going with.”

Hope its not a case of too many cooks…

I think its a great idea - its not like a Captain is making many decisions anyway and obviously on the field they will have someone in charge on any one day

….add to all this Brooks has the keys…
I dunno

5 Co-Captains?

That’s just embarrassing!


5 Co-Captains?

That’s just embarrassing!

How ? Or Why ?

Its not like Captains make tjat many decisions in a club but tjey have a lot of jobs. Ive never understood 1 captain in a professional club

Club would 100% choose Chris Lawrence if we could be 100% sure he’ll be in the team each week. But we aren’t sure, so he can’t be captain by himself. You can’t be putting your captain in reggies without some massive fall from grace.



5 Co-Captains?

That’s just embarrassing!

How ? Or Why ?

Its not like Captains make tjat many decisions in a club but tjey have a lot of jobs. Ive never understood 1 captain in a professional club

5 is awesome. If we had 4 or 6 it would be embarrassing, likewise 8 or god help us 14.

You have a good presence in the forwards and two halves. No one really in the backs or Centers, only Lawrence would really get that role. It would have been good to see a center or back step up from the newcomers. But they haven’t. So it then falls to these 5. Each of them owns their area of the side and can motivate that area accordingly. You can have someone own defense, own wining the ruck, own getting the ball out of Dummy half and over to the playmakers. Each part of League now is a space where you need someone watching. You win by owning each movement on the field so you get from bad to good positions.

Having a few options on field is a boon too. If a ref is making bad calls and you need a sensible touch, Lawrence. If you want to put them in their place, Taylor or Packer. If you don’t understand them…. Benji.

All of these guys are true leaders. I would have liked a Hooker and a back to have put their hands up, but these 5 are just natural leaders. Should show on the field.

I don’t look at it as though all 5 havent shown enough leadership that neither is worthy of sole captain more so that all 5 of these guys have been flogging themselves in proven that they can be leaders and as such the 5 are competing that hard for it that they all deserve the role.
If Cleary didn’t believe anyone wasn’t up to it then we’d have 17 captains on game day or none.
Great to hear the guys are really fighting hard.

Like the Lethal Weapon movie when Riggs and Murtaugh were made captains and they walk around saying Captain to each other - must be like that training.

But its good to know that we have people performing well enough that IC is finding it hard to name a single captain.



5 Co-Captains?

That’s just embarrassing!

How ? Or Why ?

Its not like Captains make tjat many decisions in a club but tjey have a lot of jobs. Ive never understood 1 captain in a professional club

I get having a Co-Captain if your choice as the Team Leader is part of the interchange during games etc, but outside of that its simply rubbish. A Captain of a club is a prestigious occasion on and off the field. Having a leader to lead the team into battle can also be motivating factor to performance & achievement. Off-field leaderships groups are at every club, and serve a great purpose. But being the Club Captain is a great achievement and a humbling reward for the chosen player!

Then you have Ivan’s interview on the subject. Its nothing but dribble feeding this blokes ego & his trophy-less bucket of cliches. Its the Ivan Show: You get to be captain, you get to be captain, and you get to be captain; and you over there, can also be captain…. Oh wait. Yes, you can be captain tooooo.

Its taking the no one is better than anyone else mantra the club is trying to shove down our throats to the extreme. Why stop at 5, why not pick 17? Maybe pick a different captain each week. 5 captains makes a mockery of the role and totally devalues it.

As he said, all of them have strengths and weaknesses as leaders. Being vocal on the field, at training, leading by example, speaking with media, corporate events etc. I can imagine some of our players being good at some of this but not in other aspects.

While not all captains excel in all these categories you need one who has the most, and will be playing every week. Half our captains may not even be in our top 17. Packers and Reynolds the 2 most rounded options perhaps, but as new players with somewhat controversial backgrounds it would have been hard to pick them over ET and Lawrence.

Now we have a season of tryouts for captain. May the best man win!

Recent Topics

Support our community by clicking here and joining our Forum Support Scheme

Can’t log in or access your account?
Go to https://weststigersforum.com/reset to reset your password, otherwise send an email to contact@weststigersforum.com and we’ll get you back online.