WOLLONGONG, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 15: Kalyn Ponga of the Cowboys makes a break during the round seven NRL match between the St George Illawarra Dragons and the North Queensland Cowboys at WIN Stadium on April 15, 2017 in Wollongong, Australia. (Photo by Matt Blyth/Getty Images)

After passing the halfway mark of the season, those sides in the bottom few are starting to look to next season.

Below we take a look at those sides including their recruitment to date, and those players who they should target.

Related: 2018 Recruitment Gradings – Bulldogs, Warriors, Raiders, Eels

It’s a little bit of fantasy booking per say, and I’ve tried to keep those potential targets realistic. Without knowing the exact salary cap position of each side, take the suggestions with a grain of salt, but given reports, and common sense, they are players each side would likely be able to recruit.

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West Tigers

In: Mahe Fonua (Hull FC, 2019), Tyson Gamble (2019), Tuimoala Lolohea (New Zealand Warriors, 2019), Ben Matulino (New Zealand Warriors, 2020), Chris McQueen (Gold Coast Titans, 2020), Taane Milne (St George Illawarra Dragons, 2019), Russell Packer (St George Illawarra Dragons, 2021), Josh Reynolds (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs, 2021), Corey Thompson (Widnes Vikings, 2019), Alex Twal (Parramatta Eels, 2020), Malakai Watene-Zelezniak (Penrith Panthers, 2018)

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – MARCH 30: Josh Reynolds of the Bulldogs runs with the ball during the round five NRL match between the Canterbury Bulldogs and the Brisbane Broncos at ANZ Stadium on March 30, 2017 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

The Tigers have recruited with real aggression and have produced some positive results. Josh Reynolds is the exact kind of player they need to partner Luke Brooks in the halves. Ben Matulino and Russell Packer’s signatures completely change the look of their forward pack, which was very much needed. Chris McQueen is a handy signing and will add experience and ability in the back row. Lolohea is the prize signing for mine, after hugely underachieving across the Tasman. He will play fullback next season you’d imagine. He’s a special player.

Out: Mitchell Moses (Parramatta Eels), Ryan Papenhuyzen (Melbourne Storm), Jordan Rankin, Ava Seumanufagai (Cronulla Sharks), James Tedesco (Sydney Roosters), Aaron Woods (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs)

Unfortunately, the Tigers have lost their captain and their best player, as well as Mitchell Moses, three of the four supposed ‘big four’. Tedesco is set to become the best number one in the game and is a mammoth loss, but to be honest the Tigers needed a shift in attitude and moving those three players on may provide long-term benefits.

Re-signed: Josh Aloiai (2019), Luke Brooks (2019), Michael Chee-Kam (2019), Jacob Liddle (2019), Matt McIlwrick (2019), David Nofoaluma (2021), Moses Suli (2020)

Brooks re-signed early and was key after the club invested so much in his development. Chee-Kam and McIlwrick are handy players, while Moses Suli looks something special. Nofoaluma’s signature was huge and cannot be understated. For mine, he was the fourth member of the ridiculous ‘big four’.

Off Contract: Matt Ballin, Joel Edwards, Tim Grant, Watson Heleta, Justin Hunt, Jamal Idris, Jack Littlejohn, Kyle Lovett, Kevin Naiqama

Naiqama aside, the Tigers have achieved the bulk of their re-signings. Expect a few of these to pen new deals, but I’d expect the recruitment spree to continue.

Should Target: Gideon Gela-Mosby, Charlie Gubb, Blake Ferguson

The Tigers look perhaps an outside back short and should have the funds to chase the likes of Blake Ferguson. Whether or not he’ll be interested is another story, but young Gela-Mosby might be willing to make a move for regular first-grade football and could be a target. Charlie Gubb would be the kind of young forward who can play off the bench, and wouldn’t break the bank.

Grading: B

They lost three big-name players, including a man who will play rep footy for as long as he feels like it in James Tedesco. Aaron Woods, who has the team’s postcode on his backside, sees the heart of the club moved on. Mitch Moses has hardly been missed. They are big outs, but the club has worked tirelessly to replace them. In Lolohea they have signed a brilliant fullback. Reynolds is an upgrade on Moses. Matulino and Packer probably cost, combined, just a little over what Woods would have cost them by himself. Nofa is a huge re-signing, with McQueen also a brilliant move. Tedesco aside, they look a better side on paper heading into next season.



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