It seems that no matter who dons the orange and black jersey, the Wests Tigers will remain glued to their home at the bottom of the NRL ladder.

Despite a massive recruitment drive for 2023, the club has no byes left and find themselves with just 12 competition points.

They have just been thumped 74-0 by the Cowboys, a team they beat by 48 just 6 weeks prior.

But the Tigers need to start shifting concerns away from their immediate roster and to the clear attitude problem at the club.

In the Tigers' defence, they are currently missing 3 of their spine players in Luke Brooks, Adam Doueihi and Apisai Koroisau, but that is no way to justify conceding 74 points in any game.

NRL Rd 18 - Cowboys v Wests Tigers
TOWNSVILLE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 01: The Tigers look on waiting for a conversion attempt during the round 18 NRL match between North Queensland Cowboys and Wests Tigers at Qld Country Bank Stadium on July 01, 2023 in Townsville, Australia. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

Having been a solid grind in the match for almost 15 minutes the merger club showed they have a good enough roster to compete in any game. However, then Tom Dearden scored and the men from Concord fell apart entirely.

In the leadup to Dearden's try, Coen Hess cut through the Tigers five metres shy of halfway before the play ended with Chad Townsend 11 metres away from the Tigers line. Dearden would then score the following play 24 seconds after original the Hess linebreak.

The problem? In that 24 seconds Isaiah Papali'i has not only allowed Dearden to run through a gap he should be filling, he had only made it to the 10 metre line at the time of the try.

While this is not meant to single out Papali'i who is also struggling week to week and is usually an extremely high-effort player, this is a common theme at the Tigers.

The club truly lacks grit and more importantly any meaningful form of resilience during a match. They did suffer a binning to Alex Twal but that is beside the point - during the match players just were simply not where they needed to be defensively.

It is clear something needs to change at the club. While there are the obvious and long-time concerns about CEO Justin Pascoe, especially after the signing of Scott Fulton without the consultation of Benji Marshall or Tim Sheens.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 13: Director of Football at Wests Tigers,Tim Sheens looks on during a Wests Tigers NRL training session at St Lukes Park North on April 13, 2022 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Evans/Getty Images)

While this is clearly an underlying issue at the club, ultimately Pascoe is not the one on the field conceding 74 points so more changes need to be put in place.

Personally, I do like the rumours of Benji being fast tracked to the head coach position in 2024 and I belive it would be a large positive for the club. Marshall is a legend of the club and the NRL, giving him more control can only be a good thing in my eyes. Following the success of Billy Slater at the Maroons I believe a coach that many players have idolised can be a greatly positive thing.

Though it is a mammoth job for a rookie coach he may be the last resort for the Tigers, but he will certainly need some of his vintage Marshall magic in the coaches box.

In the more immediate future however, the Tigers do not have many options in front of them.

With Starford To'a having locked down one centre spot through the year, the other has remained uncertain. Brent Naden was handed his eighth appearance of the year against the Cowboys, but going forward I think Asu Kepaoa remains their best option in the position.

Kepaoa enjoyed a strong individual start to the year and would relish the opportunity back in first grade if given the chance.

As for the rest of their roster, they just need a simplified game plan and a massive reduction in errors. Their forward pack has the size and talent to be competitive, they just require a key direction which has been lost entirely since Koroisau broke his jaw.

With Luke Brooks set to return in Round 20 and Koroisau in Round 22, the duo will need to be at their best should they wish to avoid a consecutive wooden spoon for the club.


  1. I think Junior Tupou should be looked at as a long term centre not winger. To’a and Tupou should be given at least till the end of the year to see how they go. Kepoa is more valuable of the bench where his versatility can be utilized. Naden or Talau can play on wing for rest of this season. In the halves department we are truly at crisis point due to letting Madden and Hastings go, and insisting on keeping Brooks for another million dollar season when he was wanting to leave. Halves for next year will need to be found outside the club and perhaps outside NRL. Bulla, Tupou, and To’a could all be future solid 1st graders and our forward pack just needs one more quality lock/2nd rower. I honestly feel the team is good on paper for the most part. Its the halves and the coaching that needs to improve.

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