Caught up in controversies on and off the field, the Wests Tigers have been ushered into a new era under coach Benji Marshall. An era that will hopefully provide success and wins for the football club.
Failing to reach the finals in over a decade, the Wests Tigers have completely revamped their halves this season. Last year's regular halves pairing, Brandon Wakeham and Luke Brooks departed the club as the Tigers looked to bring some young blood into the roster.
Aiming to emulate the success of the 2005 season, Jayden Sullivan, Aidan Sezer and Latu Fainu have been brought in from rival clubs, while Lachlan Galvin has been promoted from the junior ranks, creating a new generation of halves at the Wests Tigers.
It is a step in the right direction for the Tigers, who are eager to move off the bottom of the ladder after back-to-back wooden spoons in 2022 and 2023 - a feat that no team in rugby league would like to be associated with. However, the four players will compete for only two spots that are up for grabs.
As Jayden Sullivan and Aidan Sezer are likely to be given the first shot in the halves due to their previous experience in the NRL, Latu Fainu and Lachlan Galvin are continually being touted as the halves pairing of the future.
In their first one-on-one interviews after joining the Wests Tigers Top 30 roster, Fainu and Galvin spoke exclusively to Zero Tackle regarding the journey towards the NRL, the players that have helped mould their game and how they first met each other.
"I think Under-13s is the first time we played with each other, and then we played with each other with school footy from Year 7 to Year 10, so we've known each other then and just got close," Fainu told Zero Tackle on his history with Galvin.
"We're great mates, and we're all learning from each other, picking things from each other, and I think we're getting along really well, and it's been good," Galvin added on the relationship between all the halves.
Although they are projected to be the future halves pairing of the club, the duo have had different stories regarding their journey to the NRL. Fainu and his three brothers have all spent time in the NRL system since a young age, while Galvin only joined the Tigers after being dropped by the Parramatta Eels.
After being told by the Parramatta Eels that he was no longer required at the club, Galvin came through the Tigers pathways system and has turned into an Australian Schoolboy representative and one of the best young players yet to make their debut.
Contracted until the end of the 2026 season, he provided four try assists on his way to being awarded the Peter Sterling Medal last year as he guided his school, Westfields Sports High School, to a National Schoolboys Cup victory, defeating Palm Beach Currumbin 38-4 in the final.
Already impressing club officials at training, the former Eels turned Wests Tiger fan has a great kicking game to go along with his incredible IQ when the ball is in his hands.
While many may see him as too tall to be a premium five-eighth, his height is a major advantage to his style of play, allowing him to easily view what is around him and where his teammates are.
"I started at Parra. As a junior, I played...over in the Parra comp and then went through the junior rep teams at Parra and then I made Harold Matthews," Galvin said to Zero Tackle.
"I wasn't really getting game time, and they kind of told (that there is) probably not going to be a spot here for ya in the long-term.
"So I was like, alright. It probably helped me a bit in a way, like it made me train harder. Then I thought I lived over in Campbelltown, so have a go at Wests.
"I went to Wests, and then in my second year of Harold Mats, we won it and then just been going up since then."
Learning from his three older brothers, his potential saw him earn a four-year contract at the age of 16, which put him on track to become the highest-earning teenager at the time.
A promising talent like Galvin, he played a significant role in guiding the Manly Sea Eagles to the Harold Matthews title in 2021 and would go on to be named Player of the Tournament.
He would further add to his achievements by being awarded a selection in the Under-19s NSW Blues team in 2023 as a starting half and represented Tonga against England at the backend of last season in his international debut.
The pacey teenager is highly intelligent in attack and can create something out of nothing - a fact that he has shown in all levels of footy, including the NSW Cup and Jersey Flegg Cup. He also has a tremendous kicking game and can deliver all types of passes, from cut-outs to short passes, with ease.
"I've dealt with a lot of injuries, so just bringing my confidence back," Fainu said when asked what he's looking to work on this season.
"Sometimes it gets to you, but you really just got to understand that the coaches signed you for a reason," he added on the pressure of being touted as a potential NRL star.
"By doing that, you got to perform as well. Even in training, you got to perform great.
"I feel like the coaches have really believed in me, so I just got to give them each and every single effort I can."
Coached by the best five-eighth to wear the club's jersey and arguably one of the best players to don the Tigers jersey since they were established in 2000, the two players made the surprising revelation that they didn't get to see Marshall in their prime due to their young ages.
Although the duo both admitted that they have watched his highlights and have attempted to bring it into their games.
"Watching his highlights when I was younger, you just try to copy some of his moves and (I've) tried to put it into my game and Benji's really been helping me," Fainu said.
"[Daly] Cherry-Evans really took me under his wing and really showed me the ropes as an NRL player," Fainu said.
"I looked up to him as one of my older brothers and he's been teaching me a lot since I was here, especially because I was half and I didn't really adapt myself as an NRL player."
"I like to base my game around Munster," Galvin added.
"I'm a bit off the cuff, like to play eyes up and that, so just try to watch I'm a lot and just pick things from his game and try to put it into mine."