Thursday, 14 February 2013

Season Preview - Wests Tigers (2011)

Some would argue that the Tigers had a large amount of luck go their way in the back end of the 2011 season that saw them finish third on the ladder.

However a top 8 finish should've been a formality for the 4 seasons prior to last year, so if anything, last season's success was long overdue.

2010 saw the Tigers learn how to win ugly, winning games by close margins and playing defence-oriented football. But the flashy attacking brilliance was not lost. Benji Marshall had his best season since 2005, being awarded the world's best player title at season's end.

For 2011, a top 5 berth must be the Tigers only aim. Having lost no core first grade players from their 2010 squad and a strengthening of depth in previously weak areas (halves and outside backs) as well as the return from injury of other players, the Tigers look set to field a marginally stronger team than in 2010, which is already ‘gelled' and ready to go.

Wade McKinnon, Bryce Gibbs, Todd Payten, Chris Lawrence and Benji Marshall have all recovered from their minor niggling injuries, while Tim Moltzen is also back from injury after sitting out most of last season with a busted knee.

Wests Tigers have always been a club that produced top quality juniors and that trend looks set to continue for 2011. The mix of youth and experience coupled with test players and a large core of the squad who have only been with the Tigers all their career, will see them prove that 2010 wasn't a fluke and that they truly are one of the strongest teams in the competition.

Player to watch – Wade McKinnon
McKinnon's last few years have been dogged by injury, but this off-season has been his first complete season injury free and looks set to recoup some of his world class ability for the first time in a few seasons. He will absolutely love running off Marshall, Moltzen, Lui and Farah and is set to prove to be a huge force at the back and will again prove to be one of the premier fullbacks in the NRL.

Rookie to watch – Ben Murdoch-Masila
In 2010, Murdoch-Masila was called up to the first grade side in the first week of the finals. He had been a star player all season in the NYC so the call up was always going to happen. His taste of finals football and top grade quality football will see him become hungry to stay in the top 17 and prove his worth. He will prove to be one of the players tipped to become a future NRL star alongside fellow young tiger Andrew Fifita.


Gains: Jacob Miller (Sydney Roosters), Evander Waitoa (Wellington), Marika Koroibete (Fiji), Ratu Tagive (Canterbury Bulldogs), Teqele Nayarvovo (Otahuhu), Matt Utai

Losses: David Gower (St.George-Illawarra Dragons), Daniel Fitzhenry (Southcity - Group 9), Tame Tupou (Redcliffe Dolphins), Taniela Tuiaki, Jason Cayless (Retirement)

Best Line-up
1 – Wade McKinnon; 2 – Lote Tuqiri, 3 – Blake Ayshford, 4 – Chris Lawrence, 5 – Mitch Brown; 6 – Benji Marshall, 7 – Robert Lui; 13 – Chris Heighington, 12 – Liam Fulton, 11 – Gareth Ellis, 10 – Keith Galloway, 9 – Robbie Farah, 8 – Bryce Gibbs
14 – Todd Payten, 15 – Andrew Fifita, 16 – Simon Dwyer, 17 – Tim Moltzen

R1 – Bulldogs (A)
R2 – Warriors (H)
R3 – Raiders (H)
R4 – Roosters (A)
R5 – Rabbitohs (H)
R6 – Titans (A)
R7 – Broncos (H)
R8 – Raiders (A)
R9 – BYE
R10 – Rabbitohs (A)
R11 – Panthers (H)
R12 – Dragons (A)
R13 – Knights (H)
R14 – Warriors (A)
R15 – Storm (H)
R16 – Bulldogs (H)
R17 – BYE
R18 – Eels (A)
R19 – Cowboys (A)
R20 – Roosters (H)
R21 – Sea Eagles (A)
R22 – Dragons (H)
R23 – Panthers (A)
R24 – Eels (H)
R25 – Titans (H)
R26 – Sharks (A)

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