Wests Tigers; the end of an era?

Wests Tigers Rebuilding Phase NRL 2009The Wests Tigers have basically been a protected species since they won the NRL Premiership in 2005, their young squad guided by the veteran clipboard man Tim Sheens and his assistant Royce Simmons to take the top prize in the game.

But what has happened since has been a constant frustration for the legion of dedicated fans.

There is no question the Tigers have some players that can absolutely cut their opposition to shreds on their day. They also can turn on electric attacking Rugby League on their day and impress even the most traditional of fans with their fast, unique and skillful play.

But consistency has escaped them for the last 4 years. They have failed to make the NRL finals since their impressive premiership in 2005 and they have seemingly had plenty of ‘bad hair’ days of late, not just losing, but losing in a frustratingly poor fashion – certainly considering the talent they have.

They’ve re-signed stars Farah and Marshall, but whats next?

The question no one wants to ask, what about the coach? Should there be pressure on Tim Sheens?

The veteran coach has done it all and some say deserves an open cheque, but time is flying by and 2005 is light years away now.

At the very least, the Tigers need a partial clean-out of the playing ranks. The likes of Bryce Gibbs and Dene Halatau have been good servants to their club, but are a yard shorter in terms of pace and are just not stepping-up like they once did.

There was a battle for the fullback ranks after Brett Hodgson left, it ended badly with McDonnell walking away from the club and Moltzen having mixed success in the custodian role.

Workhorse Johnny Morris has been such a reliable entity for the club, but the utility value is lost when Morris is a virtual full time stop-gap five-eighth and the club can’t afford to wait any longer – they must develop Chris Lawrence for that role right now.

The other boom rookie, Dean Collis showed so much promise for the club. The Campbelltown junior bursting into the centre ranks and looking like the next Origin star, but the young outside back has struggled to be a regular force through injury and inconsistency.

New buy Gareth Ellis has been a shining light, as has the reliable Chris Highnington. But the Tigers simply need more.

For starters their goal kicking needs sorting out. Benji Marshall is simply not kicking at a high enough percentage and it’s costing the Tigers games.

It certainly looks like time for some changes. The Tigers must bite the bullet and yes, friendships will strain and egos will be burst. The club needs to follow the lead of the Bulldogs and start afresh and buy the core group that can again take them to at least the finals and a possible second premiership.

This might mean culling some administrators and assessing what Sheens and his team have planned for the next few years. Something former CEO Scott Longmuir was looking at asking, but the former boss is now long gone after asking the hard questions.

Sponsors will start asking questions soon and before you know it, the Tigers could find themselves on the fast-train to Sharkies town – a club that knows all about hitting rock bottom.

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