Alicia NewtonNRL.com Reporter
Mon 11 Feb 2019, 10:01 AM
The Wests Tigers will go into the 2019 Telstra Premiership season boasting the oldest average age of players across their top 30 squad.
With a host of retirements in the NRL over the past 12 months, several clubs have listed a several potential debutants in their 2019 squads – bringing the overall averages down across most clubs compared to previous seasons.
Clubs have until June 30 to finalise their top 30, with several spots at each club currently remaining open.
The Wests Tigers’ average age of 25.5 edges out the Warriors, Eels and Cowboys (all 25.2), while the Dragons and Roosters were next on an even 25.
The departures of Antonio Winterstein, Johnathan Thurston, Lachlan Coote, Kane Linnett and Shaun Fensom have brought the averages down in North Queensland after the Cowboys once fielded one of the oldest rosters in the game.
Cronulla, who have held the eldest tag in recent years, will go into the season with an average age of 24.9 following the departures of Luke Lewis, Ricky Leutele, Joseph Paulo and James Segeyaro.
The Sharks may have signed Shaun Johnson and Josh Morris in return, but they’ve signalled their intention to blood a core group of juniors with several rookies named in their top 30 squad.
Despite fielding a younger line-up the club remains the most experienced in the league with an average of 91.3 first-grade games per player in their squad.
Their round one opponents Newcastle, who once struggled with experience, are in the middle range for age (24.7), while their average games played is 68.4 per player.
They join Melbourne and the Titans in a similar position, while the Rabbitohs (24.6 average age) are only marginally behind.
At the other end of the spectrum, Canterbury will go into the new season fielding the most inexperienced side with a 52-game per player average, while their average age has plummeted to 22.8 following the exits of the several key players.
Dean Pay has recruited for the club’s future with Jack Cogger, Nick Meaney and Corey Harawira-Naera replacing the likes of David Klemmer, Moses Mbye and the Morris brothers.
Manly, Canberra and Brisbane are all just above the Bulldogs with average ages in the mid-23 range.
The Sea Eagles endured a changeover period under Trent Barrett with a host of long-time players departing the club over the last three seasons.
They’ll head into their new era coached by Des Hasler with an average of 57.1 games per player, while their squad is one of the youngest in the competition.
The Panthers, who fielded one of their youngest sides in history last season during the representative period, have an average age of 24.2 and 59.3 matches per player across their squad.