Wests Tigers have devised a plan to revamp their pack by recruiting and developing size, but the issue has become: at what cost will next year’s vision affect this season’s results?
Workaholic back-rower Chris Heighington, the heart and soul of the Tigers’ pack for the past five seasons, has been forced to begin the search for an alternative club.
The reason is one of the harsh realities of professional football. Coach Tim Sheens has told the 168-game Tigers forward he will more than likely be playing from the bench next season.
Four-time premiership winner Sheens has decided the club is in need of a makeover, targeting size and strength as the key ingredients for a forward pack considered to have a soft underbelly by its NRL rivals.
It’s a brutal call on a one-club servant who won a premiership with the Tigers in 2005 and is as much the nucleus of the team as Benji Marshall or Robbie Farah.
The biggest issue facing the Tigers this season is going to be keeping the club together when everyone knows next season it is being torn apart.
Gone are the 2005 premiership winner Bryce Gibbs, boom rookie Andrew Fifita and most likely Heighington, while Liam Fulton was another one-club player also told he could go.
Even Sheens admits it’s been a distraction and it’s going to take a professional organisation to overcome it.
It was earlier this year that Sheens admitted the issue of long-serving players being forced out has had an impact on the club. Since then, the Tigers coach has spoken to all players involved.
One thing is certain, however, Heighington is an NRL warrior.
And if he is forced to switch clubs, his new home will be the richer for his presence.