Wests Tigers Training Session
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MAY 25: Tigers head coach Michael Maguire looks on during a Wests Tigers NRL training session at St. Luke's Park North on May 25, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Despite an encouraging start to the season, 2020 looks like it will end in familiar fashion for the Wests Tigers, i.e. a spot just outside of finals footy.

Their traditional finishing spot 9th is in real danger following a less than stellar string of results. Whereas the early signs of the Michael McGuire era provided great promise, they’re now in the very real situation of actually regressing this season.

Strangely, rumours have come out over the past fortnight about player disharmony based on the fact that McGuire is training them too hard.

Although I don’t totally believe this to be true, the Tigers have run through plenty of “tough” coaches over the years and have publicly backed their players in “player vs coach” situations.

Now is the time for the Tigers to get serious! Back a coach who brings Premiership winning experience and a history of clever recruitment. Lock in his contract, publicly state that anyone who doesn’t buy in can walk away.

Sorry Tigers fans but right now the club is a meme. There’s over $1.5 million tied up in two hugely under performing halves, whilst the club’s best half option is being given an enforced swansong.

Benji Marshall has been, by far, the clubs best performing six or seven in 2020 and yet the horror salary cap situation they find themselves in means they’re forced to move on from the club legend.

Don’t get me wrong, Marshall is not the long-term option the Tigers need, however their hand has been forced by having a $600,000+ player sitting idle. There’s rumours Reynolds is on as much as $800,000 a season.

McGuire’s hands are tied so he will need a few seasons so sort out the mess he inherited, but Tigers fans and players have to stick tight. There is absolutely nothing positive in moving him on and bringing in yet another quick fix.

The club also needs to come out and absolutely rubbish talks of over training. How often do you hear members of the Roosters or Storm complain re working too hard!?

Almost every time a big name signs for one of those sides you have the traditional “Hardest I’ve trained” article released. Josh Morris did it with the Chooks despite being at the Dragons, Sharks and Dogs, all of which he enjoyed some level of success.

If there are any players on that roster making such complaints genuinely, sit them for a few weeks and then move them on. With all due respect there’s no player in that Tigers 30 who is “above” training methods.

Whereas a Thurston or Cronk could very well decide on his own training system, there’s no Tigers player right now I’d be afraid to walk out of the club to send a very important point.

Michael McGuire is in my way responsible for the situation the Tigers currently find themselves in, however he is tasked with fixing it. He needs 100% support from players and management alike and unless they’re going to commit that to him, what’s the point?

He didn’t sign a fringe reserve grader for the better part of a million dollars. He didn’t hand Luke Brooks the keys to the kingdom despite him never leading them to a finals appearance.

That all falls on the man who took South Sydney to a title in entertaining circumstances. The current Tigers squad in no way resembles the Rabbitohs side of 2014 but some signs are there.

Luciano Leilua has proved to be a brilliant pick up and looks set for a monster career. David Nofoaluma was playing NSW Cup last year but in career best form in 2020. Alex Twal and Luke Garner have firmly established themselves as first graders this year.

Jacob Liddle has another year of semi-regular footy under his belt and looks ready to deliver on his undoubted promise.

Although they’ll likely finish lower than 9th this season, you’ll have a hard time convincing me that they’re not in a better position now than they were in 2019.

The club is taking steps to move on older players allowing them to enter the player market. Unfortunately they may have left it too late.

Truthfully, I love the way the Tigers play (when they’re good) and I’m sick of hearing that they’re “two or three” years away from finals footy.

They’ve finished ninth for what seems like a decade. One big signing, one clever positional switch, one last gasp win gets them into the finals. Yet they seem so far away despite being so close.

I want the Tigers to succeed because they’re fun to watch. I’d much rather the Tigers in the top four than the boring old Storm or Roosters.

If they’re going to make any sort of finals appearance any time soon though, they need to get serious. NOW!!!

Back McGuire, ship off those supposedly moaning re the hard slog they have to put in at training, and move on from the glories of yesteryear.

2005 was a glorious year, but it was soooooo long ago now in Rugby League terms.

Time to establish a new identity. One of seriousness and toughness.