2013 NRL Season Preview: Wests Tigers

By Brady Foray Writers

Oh how the mighty have fallen. Installed as premiership favourites at the beginning of last season, the Tigers barely came up as a blip on the premiership radar in 2012. They never lived up to the hype at all.

The club was rocked by the death of influential captain Robbie Farah’s mother, a tragic incident the Tigers never recovered from. The poor form of Adam Blair and Benji Marshall and the impact that Gareth Ellis and Lote Tuquri injury ravaged season’s saw the club lose eight of their last eleven games.

Fast-forward to 2013 and the Tigers’ season could essentially be in shambles before it has begun. After a decade long tenure at the club, Tim Sheens was let go along with Chris Heighington, Beau Ryan and English superstar Gareth Ellis among others. In their place they have signed back-rowers Eddy Pettybourne and Bodene Thompson and NRL veteran, Braith Anasta. The question is: will this be enough to fill the gaps left by those departed?

Signings: Braith Anasta (Roosters), Eddy Pettybourne (Rabbitohs), Bodene Thompson (Titans), Jack Buchanan (Dragons), James Gavet (Bulldogs)

Departures: Gareth Ellis (Hull), Beau Ryan (Sharks), Chris Heighington (Sharks), Junior Moors (Storm), Tom Humble (Panthers), Dane Chisholm (Sea Eagles), John Grant (Rugby Union), Ray Cashmere (Shellharbour)

Key to Success:

Since Scott Prince left the club in 2006 the Tigers have struggled to find a partner for Benji Marshall. In Robert Lui, the Tigers had seemingly found their halfback replacement but indifferent circumstances would see him head north. For the Tigers to be successful this season, they need to find a suitable halfback or five-eighth for Benji Marshall (whom had eight scrumbase partners last season). Whether it is Curtis Sironen, Jacob Miller, Tim Moltzen or even new signing Anasta, the Tigers need a successful halves pairing to strike up a combination quickly.

Player to Watch:

Adam Blair left the 2012 season with a lot to be desired. The former Melbourne Storm premiership-winning forward and Kiwis vice-captain came to Tigers last year to help push the club towards the trophy which had eluded them for seven years. Let it be said that among the disappointments of the club’s abysmal year last season, Blair (pictured right) was definitely among them. Blair played all but one game last year but only averaged 72 metres per game. He only managed to break the line three times. Look for Blair to make amends this year and finally stamp his authority.

Erratic Eddy says:

“Eddy loves loyalty in the modern game. This is why Eddy loves Liam Fulton who re-signed with the club for a further three years. He’ll play anywhere Fulton and is a great re acquisition for the club.”

Strongest 17: 1- Tim Moltzen 2- Marika Koribete 3- Blake Ayshford 4- Chris Lawrence 5- Matthew Utai 6- Benji Marshall 7- Jacob Miller 8- Keith Galloway 9- Robbie Farah (C) 10- Aaron Woods 11- Braith Anasta 12- Eddy Pettybourne 13- Adam Blair Interchange: 14- Liam Fulton 15- Matthew Bell 16- Matthew Groat 17- Ben Murdoch-Masila. 18th Man: Lote Tuquri.

Predicted Position: 14th

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