Former Wests Tigers captain Chris Lawrence has claimed that the Wests Tigers ‘should have' had at least two premierships to their name by now, lamenting the club's inability to capitalise on a good team and a solid opportunity as they prepare to build again.
Speaking with Zero Tackle TV about the club's trajectory during his career, Lawrence shared his genuine belief that the club should have been able to return to premiership status during a two-year period between 2010-11.
Lawrence made his NRL debut towards the end of 2006, just one year after the Tigers had won their maiden premiership, but the former back-rower says that by the time he felt like a permanent member of the squad, there was little association with the recent title success.
“I didn't really get any of that premiership hangover,” Lawrence told ZeroTackle TV.
“By the time I got (into the NRL) it was the back-end of '06 and 2005 was truly gone. It was a completely different team. A lot of guys had left and a lot of (others) were injured.
“Then by the time I was training with the team full-time it was 2007 and the team was different again.”
That turnover at the club showed in results as well. In the seasons immediately following the premiership win, the Tigers finished 11th, 9th and 10th.
Thanks to the premiership's recency, though, the club was saved from the pressure such results have created in more recent times.
But despite the dip in results immediately after the '05 title, the rebuild showed that the team was improving, and they soon returned to the premiership window.
Though the club became a premiership force once again, Tim Sheens was still at the helm and the team was just as laden with talent as the 2005 squad, the team failed to capitalise.
While Lawrence enjoyed a prolific career since, he's surprisingly frank about missing his best shot at an NRL premiership.
“Around 2009 there was a lot more stability and we started to find more consistency, which set us up for the next few years. In 2010 and 2011 we were top four both years.
“To be honest, we missed an opportunity to win a premiership in that time. I definitely think we should have won one.
“They're hard to come by and you have to put yourself in that position. We (did) put ourselves in that position, but luck, execution – things just didn't go our way.”
The Tigers were left kicking themselves after losing a thrilling preliminary final by a single point to eventual premiers St George Illawarra, despite leading for much of the contest. 12 months later, it was a similar situation as the Warriors overcame a 12-point halftime deficit to end the highly-fancied Tigers' season in the semi-finals.
Despite two years of disappointing ends to promising starts, 2012 once again brought a sense of optimism to the club after seemingly taking up the role of a regular finals side.
Once again, the players and fans were sadly destined for disappointment as the Tigers missed out on the finals by a single win, and a price would have to be paid, with former and returning coach Tim Sheens forced to pay the price despite contributing factors.
“In 2012, we were favourites to win the comp and we just missed out on finals,” Lawrence recalled.
“For Tim Sheens to lose his job at the end of that (was tough).
"You say it was a disappointing season but when you look back in hindsight, when you lose a guy in Round 1 named James Tedesco… At that point in time it didn't seem significant but you look back now and think ‘if we had him for a whole season, does that season change?
“Knowing what he's been able to do now, having a full year of him being developed under Tim Sheens, things could have been different.”
Watch the full chat - covering a wide range of topics including the Tigers, Test football, injuries and life after footy plus much more - by clicking the link below.