Ivan Cleary effect takes hold at Wests Tigers

The Wests Tigers’ pre-season has had all the trademarks of an Ivan Cleary rebuild, but at his third club as an NRL coach he says he’s further along the track at this point than before.

As has become typical of a Cleary tenure, the coach’s first pre-season with his new club has been one of the busiest in the NRL.

Nine front-line players and a new assistant coach in Brett Hodgson have arrived at Concord, to go with the four remaining who he debuted after coming in to replace sacked Jason Taylor midway through last season.

Sound familiar? It should.

In 2012, his first year at Penrith, Cleary brought eight new players to the club and handed six other players their maiden NRL appearance.

Two years later, they reached the third week of the finals after Cleary weeded through the recruits he wanted to keep to gel with the young and exciting talent at the club.

It was a similar story at the Warriors in 2006.

Hamstrung by salary cap issues that cost them four competition points before the start of the season, Cleary debuted four players in his first season and brought eight to the club over his initial two pre-seasons.

Again, he took them to the third week of the finals two years later, and by his final year at the club in 2011 they’d made the grand final.

“It’s all I’ve really known,” Cleary told AAP of his reputation for rebuilding struggling teams.

"I feel like we’re ahead of where we first were in 2012 at the Panthers though.

“Coming in mid-year last year wasn’t ideal in some respects but because we were able to get a little bit of traction last year it’s given us a bit of a leg up on the journey.”

Cleary’s recruits are from far and wide.

None, aside from returning club legend Benji Marshall, carry the star power of a James Tedesco, Aaron Woods or Mitchell Moses, players they have lost.

But instead Tigers officials hope they’ve got value for money to allow for a much deeper roster.

Tuimoala Lolohea should finally find a home at fullback after arriving to replace Moses in the halves midway through last season.

Josh Reynolds brings with him the enthusiasm he became famous for at Canterbury. Kiwi internationals Ben Matulino and Russell Packer bulk up the front row while the dangerous Mahe Fonua is expected to be a bargain buy in the backs.

And players are promising a more attacking approach gelled together after a largely injury-free pre-season.

“Pre-season is important every year but there is a bit of new direction,” Cleary said.

“All the new guys have turned up motivated and looking to train hard and looking to add value. Not just on the training field and in the gym but also just in and around the place.”

The other notable departure from the Tigers’ pre-season was the media scrum that dogged them in the past due to issues like the Taylor-Robbie Farah saga.

The club now has the most settled roster in terms of players signed for next season, meaning the focus can finally be about football.

“The guys who have been here for the past two or three years have mentioned more than once how it’s nice to be able to just focus on the job at hand,” Cleary said.

"I know I felt when I got here last year that it was just a bit of a frenzy … I think it definitely takes its toll.

“We’re just trying to get to a point where our football puts us in the news, and hopefully for the positive.”

STATS THAT MATTER

Ladder finishes over the past three seasons: 2017 - 15th, 2016 - 9th, 2015 - 14th

Coach: Ivan Cleary

Captain: TBC

Gains: Mahe Fonua (Hull FC), Pita Godinet (Manly), Benji Marshall (Brisbane), Ben Matulino, Tuimoala Lolohea (Warriors), Chris McQueen (Gold Coast), Taane Milne, Russell Packer (St George Illawarra), Josh Reynolds (Canterbury), Robbie Rochow (Melbourne), Corey Thompson (Widness), Alex Twal (Parramatta)

Losses: Matt Ballin, Jamal Idris (retired), Kyle Lovett (Leigh), Jeremy Marshall-King (Canterbury), Mitchell Moses (Parramatta), Jordan Rankin (Huddersfield), Ava Seumanufagai (Cronulla), James Tedesco (Sydney Roosters), Aaron Woods (Canterbury)

Best team: 1. Tuimoala Lolohea, 2. David Nofoaluma, 3. Taane Milne, 4. Kevin Naiqama, 5. Mahe Fonua, 6. Josh Reynolds, 7. Luke Brooks, 8. Ben Matulino, 9. Jacob Liddle, 10. Russell Packer, 11. Chris Lawrence, 12. Chris McQueen, 13. Elijah Taylor, 14. Benji Marshall, 15. Alex Twal, 16. Robbie Rochow, 17. Sauaso Sue

Predicted finish: 12th


http://www.canberratimes.com.au/rugby-league/league-news/nrl-2018-teambyteam-ivan-cleary-effect-takes-hold-at-wests-tigers-20180220-h0wcte.html

Of course he’s much further ahead then his previous clubs. He’s had it on a silver platter walking in with an entire salary cap at his disposal. No having to tread water coaching a roster somebody else put together. Probably a big factor in why he took the job.

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Of course he’s much further ahead then his previous clubs. He’s had it on a silver platter walking in with an entire salary cap at his disposal. No having to tread water coaching a roster somebody else put together. Probably a big factor in why he took the job.

I thought that he coached someones else’s roster last year.

:bash :bash

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Of course he’s much further ahead then his previous clubs. He’s had it on a silver platter walking in with an entire salary cap at his disposal. No having to tread water coaching a roster somebody else put together. Probably a big factor in why he took the job.

I thought that he coached someones else’s roster last year.

:bash :bash

With the ability right away to put his own team together 😒

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Of course he’s much further ahead then his previous clubs. He’s had it on a silver platter walking in with an entire salary cap at his disposal. No having to tread water coaching a roster somebody else put together. Probably a big factor in why he took the job.

I thought that he coached someones else’s roster last year.

:bash :bash

You’re both right. He inherited a mess last year but was given the leeway to call the shots and he did so to unlock a whole salary cap to spend. He was never to be judged on last year.

That team is no where near the best 17.

Who would be your top 17 SG?

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That team is no where near the best 17.

They never are. Marstdrs and Eisenhuth missing out? doubt it.

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Of course he’s much further ahead then his previous clubs. He’s had it on a silver platter walking in with an entire salary cap at his disposal. No having to tread water coaching a roster somebody else put together. Probably a big factor in why he took the job.

There is no silver platter at this club.

We are favourites for the spoon this year despite the feel good stories.

Many people would argue our starting side in 2017 was stronger.

I like our depth though.

Be an interesting season as if some of these signings don’t work out there not exactly young.

Anyway I expect it to very much life his first season at Penrith. 12th 3th-14th range.

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That team is no where near the best 17.

Its not the first ive seen that these experts has left out Marsters, Eisenheuth and Aloia.

In my mind they are 3 of our best and why a few of us have some confidence in this squad.

If they havent looked at those 3 then they have just dismissed us before a ball has even been kicked.

Hopefully it works in our favour and we take a few by surprise early on.

@:

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That team is no where near the best 17.

Its not the first ive seen that has left out Marsters, Eisenheuth and Aloia.

In my mind they are 3 of our best and why a few of us have some confidence in this squad.

If they havent looked at those 3 then they have just dismissed us before a ball has even been kicked.

Hopefully it works in our favour and we take a few by surprise early on.

I honestly think we will roll the Roosters… I wonder what the odds will be.

@:

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That team is no where near the best 17.

Its not the first ive seen that has left out Marsters, Eisenheuth and Aloia.

In my mind they are 3 of our best and why a few of us have some confidence in this squad.

If they havent looked at those 3 then they have just dismissed us before a ball has even been kicked.

Hopefully it works in our favour and we take a few by surprise early on.

I honestly think we will roll the Roosters… I wonder what the odds will be.

Close to $4 I’d reckon

@:

@:

@:

That team is no where near the best 17.

Its not the first ive seen that has left out Marsters, Eisenheuth and Aloia.

In my mind they are 3 of our best and why a few of us have some confidence in this squad.

If they havent looked at those 3 then they have just dismissed us before a ball has even been kicked.

Hopefully it works in our favour and we take a few by surprise early on.

I honestly think we will roll the Roosters… I wonder what the odds will be.

Try Sportsbet $5 to make the 8. I’m on it before we get off to a flyer.

@:

Of course he’s much further ahead then his previous clubs. He’s had it on a silver platter walking in with an entire salary cap at his disposal. No having to tread water coaching a roster somebody else put together. Probably a big factor in why he took the job.

Definitely didn’t have it easy when he walked in. Yes the days of paying other clubs for our players were gone and we didn’t have much dead wood on big dollars. However he walked into a complete mess. Jason Taylor had the team going rapidly backwards and most good players wouldn’t have wanted to come anywhere near the club. He’s done a fantastic job of instilling a new culture that people want to buy into. It’s early days we’ll see what happens with this squad but I couldn’t image many other coaches doing as good a job to turn the mess around as what Ivan has done.

@:

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That team is no where near the best 17.

They never are. Marstdrs and Eisenhuth missing out? doubt it.

Half of these “pundits” don’t even know who our players are.

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