As a Wests Tigers fan, I watched the Dally M’s with a heavy heart, as James Tedesco was announced the best player in the game it highlighted another great player that the Tigers have had in their midst and just were unable to keep. Alongside him in the team of the year stood the halfback of the year Mitchell Moses, another one that left the Tigers for greener pastures
If you look through the current crop of players making a name for themselves in the NRL, you will see a host of players that have spent time at Concord and decided they could do better elsewhere. In a year where the Tigers once again failed to make the finals, here is a reminder of some of their former players that were enjoying the finals.
- James Tedesco. In 2014, Tedesco backflipped on a contract with the Canberra Raiders because he wanted to stay at the Tigers, he believed in the team back then. Fast forward a couple of years, the talented fullback had had enough of the limited success that was on offer at the Tigers and signed with the Roosters. Since that time, he has won a Premiership, become the Dally M player of the year, won another State of Origin series and will line up for another Grand Final.
- Mitchell Moses. Another one of the so-called “big four” that left the Tigers in less than pleasant circumstances. Moses has had the season of his career, guiding Parramatta to the finals.
- Nathan Brown. The Eels forward pulled on the Tigers jersey before going elsewhere.
- Josh Addo-Carr. Some might not remember the brief time that the Fox spent at Concord but Tiger fans all recall vividly seeing Addo-Carr fly down field at Leichhardt. The Storm snapped him up pretty quickly and he has not looked back since, winning a premiership, playing in a Grand Final and the general success that comes from playing with a team like Melbourne.
- Ryan Papenhuyzen. Whilst he technically didn’t play for the Tigers' first-grade side, Papenhuyzen was a Tigers junior with a lot of wraps on him… The Storm saw his potential and signed him as a handy replacement for Billy Slater.
- Martin Taupau. The beast that is Taupau provided grunt up front when the Tigers needed it. He was a fan favourite at the Tigers but has definitely become a powerhouse at Manly.
- Moses Suli. This was one of the most talked about contract signings when the young Suli was offered big money to play at the Tigers. After being let go for disciplinary reasons he went to the Bulldogs where he didn’t even make the field, but at Manly he was starting to be a highly regarded player.
- Matthew Lodge. Ok, this one you must grant the Tigers did the right thing of terminating his contract when he went off the rails in the US, but you cannot deny he has played some good footy.
- Andrew Fifita. The Sharks forward has always been a talent to be reckoned with. Fifita left the Tigers at a time when it appeared that the Sharks had a deliberate strategy to wait for Tigers players to leave and then sign them up. He’s found a home at the Sharks and was part of their premiership-winning team.
- Aaron Woods. The last of the “big four” that left the Tigers, admittedly has not reached the career success of some other former Tigers but still regarded as one of the best in the game.
All teams let go of talented players it just seems that players seem to get better once they leave the Tigers and as a team, they continue to struggle to make an impact on the competition.
There was hope that a respected coach like Michael Maguire would bring stability to the playing roster but the Ryan Matterson drama shows that the Tigers are still struggling to convince talented players that they will reach their full potential by being at the Tigers.
If the Tigers are going to be any hope of making the finals in 2020 and beyond it needs to start with the question why are talented players leaving, and how do we create a culture of success that attracts quality players to the team.