While the joint venture has achieved success early in their partnership and on the outside look to be a happy family – back room bickering over the premier league feeder club setup has forced Wests to look at partnering with the Canberra Raiders for next years premier league NRL season.
Problems arose for the Wests Tigers several years ago when the club chose to use the Balmain-Ryde premier league side to be the only feeder to the first grade Wests Tigers side. This decision was apparently made out of simplicity for coach Tim Sheens. When Sheens arrived at the Wests Tigers club – he stated he only wanted to deal with ‘one’ reserve grade team and not have to cover ‘two’ which makes sense.
Wests and the Tigers came to an agreement that each individual premier league team would take yearly turns at feeding the NRL Wests Tigers club. That started with the Balmain-Ryde team and made things much easier for Tim Sheens and the coaching staff to manage as players moved between a single premier league and first grade unit.
The problem was; Wests never got a turn. After the initial year of Balmain-Ryde feeding the NRL club – someone forgot or refused to change the system and the Western Suburbs Magpies reserve grade team remained in the cold. A team with little interaction with the Wests Tigers first grade side, much less exposure for the their players and a kick in the guts from their so called ‘partner’.
This problem has been simmering for years, as Balmain-Ryde continue to be the major feeder for the Wests Tigers. The Magpies haven’t pushed the issue too hard for fear of de-stabilizing the powerful joint venture – the Tigers probably know this and may be taking advantage of the situation.
Wests have now looked elsewhere and are in talks to link with the Canberra Raiders club to field Raiders reserve grade players in the Magpies team next year.
As Canberra aren’t entering a side in the premier league competition next year; they are looking for an alternative and the fit with Wests Magpies could be perfect for both parties.
Magpies CEO and Wests Tigers Chairman Kevin Hammond has said the relationship with Wests Tigers will not change. The Magpies will still be able to feed future first graders to the Wests Tigers NRL side – but with the Raiders partnership will get the reserve grade exposure and talent they deserve.
The situation has been tough for the Magpies at present; for example if a Wests Magpies player makes first grade and then gets dropped – he then becomes part of the Balmain-Ryde Club. Certainly unfair on the Wests side of the merger.
No deal has been done with the Raiders yet; but can you blame the Magpies for sleeping around given the current situation?