After six rounds of the NRL, the Wests Tigers are sitting in fourth position on the ladder with five wins and only a single loss. This incredible early season run has come to the surprise of nearly all NRL viewers, many of whom expected the Tigers to receive the wooden spoon.
In fact the only loss the Tigers have suffered so far in the 2018 season was due to the Broncos receiving a dodgy penalty goal in golden point. If not for that game-deciding call the Tigers could be sitting on top of the ladder with the Dragons.
Though the season is only a quarter completed, credit must go to Ivan Cleary for what he has managed to accomplish so far with his team.
The Tigers have shone in a few key areas so far this season; areas that few predicted them to perform well in.
The halves combination has been impressive, particularly when considering that star recruit Josh Reynolds was not available for selection for the first five rounds of the year.
Benji Marshall and Luke Brooks have done a tremendous job of steering the side across the park and have combined so well that there is talk of Reynolds being unable to crack the starting 13.
The defence of the Tigers has also been outstanding. The team has only conceded 67 points across six games, at an average of just above 10.1 points per game.
This is an outstanding effort for a team that has lacked defensively over the past few seasons.
The entire team has really worked hard for one another, but the forwards in particular have led the side so far.
Russell Packer has shown why he was such a crucial purchase for Ivan Cleary with a number of strong performances demonstrating why he is a leader in the side.
The Tigers will be happy going into Origin season with many of their key players unlikely or unable to be selected.
Benji Marshall, Russell Packer, Ben Matulino and Tuimoala Lolohea are all not available for Origin while Luke Brooks, Josh Reynolds and Corey Thompson are not likely to be picked.
Despite all this good news, it is early in the season and the Tigers will face many challenges yet.
It remains to be seen if the Tigers are a genuine chance for finals football in 2018, but they are giving themselves every chance to qualify if they continue playing the way they are now.